"The Future of New Cross" community services

A new group called The Future of New Cross has been set up for people interested in forming community groups to run frontline Council services being cut in New Cross, including the library, the Amersham Children's Centre and the St James Family Learning Centre.

There is a Facebook group and there will be a public meeting on 7pm April 11th at All Saints Community Centre, 105 New Cross Road if you're interested in taking part.


Jim Benoit said...

Surprise surprise the creator is famous New Cross revolutionary James Holland. I will bet anyone reading this that the meeting advertised will have nothing to do with running services and everything to do with overthrowing the Council, the government and all aspects of the acien regime! Down with the provisional government! All power to the soviets! Peace, bread and land comrades!

Coney said...

Well the big society is effectively about, if not overthrowing, but remvoing the grip that Councils have on power and resources. So, if James Holland's motivations are as you've described, he's not far from the intended target.

Tamsin said...

Give them a break - at least they are spending time, money and effort doing something. If the result is a community group able to take on the running of former council premises to provide better than former council services do you have to dissect their mixed motivations and then sneer at them?

One of the cabinet members was addressing a meeting I was at earlier in the week and we were told that community groups taking on former library buildings would be responsible for running maintenance and minor matters but major issues affecting the fabric of the buildings that would remain in Council ownership would rest with the Council.

The devil, of course, is in the detail but that sounded encouraging.

Anonymous said...

if it is run for free i.e. by volunteers, the service will be poorer and NOT better than before.

Tamsin said...

Agreed - so the ideal would be for a group of volunteers to take on the arms length responsibility and put together a package of use and some fundraising that generates sufficient income to pay someone for day to day management and to staff a reception/office.

The pattern is there in the Telegraph Hill Centre where core income from a commercial let of part of the premises pays for the Centre Manager deal with the medly of bookings that fill the rest of the space and really do serve the community well. These bookings, even at the low rates they are set at, also generate income. Some work is regarded as core to the Centre ethos and does not pay.

More single use (at present) and focussed is the Hill Station where the Bold Vision charity trustees are volunteers giving an awful lot of their time for free on fundraising for capital needs and promotions and hands on manual labour on improving the fabric - but the day to day running of the cafe is by people who make their living from it.

If, contrary to what was mentioned on another thread, former library premises are made available in relatively good nick, and if the Council retain responsibility for major repairs and maintenance, any group taking on such a project would have a significant advantage over both the above examples.

(Circles in circles - the Hill Station operates beneath the Telegraph Hill library that closed about 15 years ago.... Nothing new under the sun.)

Brockley Nick said...

One of the major flaws in the "Big Society" idea is that the people with greatest motivation and availability to run community facilities will not always be those most appropriate or suited to the task. eg: Faith groups have an obvious interest in taking over the running of childcare facilities.

max said...

The Arthouse in Lewisham Way is also a very good case study, former Carnegie Library kept in community use and run by users, the Council still funds the major repairs.
It's open to the public and performs a role of public interest that the public sector cannot perform as spontaneously as they do or on a non existing budget as they do.
Not run as a library though.

Tamsin said...

Partly because the wonderful pannelled oak shelving was ripped out and (rumour has it) used as firewood while the place was empty during the period that Lewisham Council footled around trying to find a cash purchaser for the freehold, and basically screwed up at every opportunity. Maybe they have learnt from that disaster and this time the assets will be handed over to interested community groups relatively intact.

The dreadful irony is that the same group that now run the ARthouse expressed an interest at the outset but were ignored while the place was trashed.

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