Friday, 30 August 2013

Can I Borrow Some Coffee?

The Friends of Worcester Park Library are trying to raise money towards their Garden Plan. As part of this they are holding a coffee morning next Saturday (7th September) at the library to help raise more funds and gather ideas and resources to help make the plan a reality.

The friends won £5,000 towards this from Sutton Council in May’s Participatory Budgeting event. Jackie, who chairs the group told the blog that they have since applied for a £20,000 grant from the Mayor's Office and should hear next month if they have been successful or not. The manager at Waitrose has also apparently been great and will happily donate to the project once it gets going and if everything is legally put in place.

However, the group still needs help and have decided to put the idea out to the public and see who would like to get involved in this community project, whether it is by giving their time, ideas, materials and even donations.

In the meanwhile you can just support them by going along and having a coffee. It all begins at 10:30am and Jackie and the other friends would be delighted to see you!

24 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

Green fingers said...

WP Blogger, is it possible to obtain and upload an itemised and costed list of expenses that total £20,000?

I'm having trouble seeing how £20,000 is necessary to buy some plants, tables and chairs. There is already a grass area available for planting and right next to it are parking spaces (ignoring the fact that parking availability will have to be reduced) which could double as an ideal surface for a seating area.

From what I understand, the idea is to spend thousands on hiring someone to produce a high-resolution photo impression of a garden next to the library - I think we can all adequately imagine what a garden next to the library would look like, so why waste a fortune on that pointless exercise?

All they need is garden furniture, plants and compost. It should be easily possible to build a garden area using no more than the £5,000 they already have - so where's the other £15K going to go?

guest D said...

You should be able to obtain that with a Freedom of Information act request to Sutton Council Library department.

But I would guess with costs like these, it will be the hard landscaping, the cost of digging up the Disabled Parking spaces, the cost of erecting signs directing disabled patrons to Sutton main library, which will be the closest with disabled access and parking.

The cost of seats, these are surprisingly expensive if they are to be used outside all year round. Possibly the cost of fencing to separate the garden area from the car park.

There may also be an allowance in that figure for 5 years of annual maintenance as that will be the biggest ongoing cost, if they can't or aren't allowed to use volunteers.

Green Fingers said...

I agree, Guest D, an FOI request would certainly reveal something, but I would have hoped going to this trouble and Sutton Council having to go to the avoidable expense would not be necessary: I'm simply asking why and how a relatively simple diagram shown to me costs £20,000 to implement.

Why would the disabled spaces need digging up? What's the point in digging up the existing concrete surface - presumably a concrete surface is needed for the chairs and tables to sit on?

They surely can't want all the parking places next to the library - two adjacent and exiting slots could replace the two current disabled slots (albeit making them slightly wider for ease of access).

Before trying to recreate the Garden of Eden, why can't they start with planting on the existing grass area? As yet, absolutely no effort has been made to plant anything there. Are they really serious or is this a 'back of a fag packet' idea that appeared during a conversation in a pub?

The seats won't cost a fortune - presumably something like the type found in pub gardens - a few hundred quid a piece.

I doubt it'll be in use all year round - we haven't got the all year round climate for it. During the Winter months, what is the point of having an empty garden taking up needed parking spaces for six months of the year?

Why can't they simply plant something attractive in the existing grass verge and buy some furniture with the existing £5,000. If it works out, great! If it's a five minute wonder (which I have a feeling it will be), the vehicle spaces can be inexpensively reintroduced.

The last thing we need (with the Borough's libraries already under pressure) is the added long-term liability of a maintenance contract - to maintain a space that is only used in the summer months.

Putting it simply, if they are shy about showing us a breakdown of where, why and how this £20,000 is being spent, at the additional cost of badly needed parking spaces that are needed, every day, all year round, I doubt this is going to get much support.

As it stands, it certainly doesn't merit support. And as things stand, we can all grab a book from the library, buy a coffee and sit in the Midas Touch pub garden - without taking up parking spaces!

Lord Cynic said...

Well said "Green fingers" - I posted in a similar vein some months some readers' chagrin. Work by contractors and consultants which has a local or central government connection is an endless licence for embarrassing costs because the tendered companies know government will pay up with squandered public money however ludicrous the bill.

Sue said...

I have no idea how much this project will cost, but at least Jackie is trying to do something to improve this town! How about turning up and giving some constructive advice.
Jackie works really hard,. giving up her time to help a lot of people in our community. So please don't knock her good intentions.

guest D said...

I don't think anyone is trying to knock Jackie's good intentions, just pointing out that there will be losers as well as winners with these plans. Like many of these suggestions it's never a case of 100% good versus 100% bad, but it ends up somewhere in the middle, and where people stand will be on the relative values they place on the factors involved.

Personally, I think Green Fingers suggestion for a scaled back implementation, that doesn't lose the disabled parking spaces is the most sensible.

Green Fingers said...

Sue, nobody is questioning Jackie's good intentions. We are questioning the cost, both in terms of cash and car parking spaces.

The car park is often full - throughout the year, whatever the weather. I doubt a garden going to be anything like as fully utilised, particularly during the winter. On that basis alone, car park spaces are far more important to more people than a garden. Shouldn't we be allowed to say so?

My request and constructive advice is for an itemised list of costs that make up this expenditure to be uploaded and explained to us. And how many desperately needed parking spaces are going to have to be sacrificed? Also, what happens when it's too cold and wet to sit in the garden - does it lie empty whilst shoppers circle the car park, waiting for a reduced number of spaces?

By the way, it's just occurred to me that's not a £20,000 garden, but a £25,000 garden, since £5,000 came from the participatory budgeting event and now a £20,000 grant has been applied for!

Green Fingers said...

Indeed, for this project to cost £25K+, I have a feeling that a large proportion of the expense will be on hiring design consultants, who will knock up a simple image on a simple garden design package that costs £2,99 from Amazon! If so, this is going to hit an awful lot of firm opposition.

Nichu said...

I think the best thing to do would be to go along to the event to find out about the costs. The problem with grants such as these is that they are too small to to anything significant like new transport infrastructure and new builds, so they have to be spent on small community projects such as this. I think a garden in Worcester Park would be nice. The shady Midas Touch garden isn't the same, next to the noisy road and railway line. And you'd have to buy something.

It's funny how the much lauded private sector gets many of its major contracts from the public sector. We're all working for the state really it seems.

Green Fingers said...

I hope an update will appear, offering a breakdown of the £25,000. Although, now I'm beginning to wonder if the first question ought to be, "How much is the TOTAL cost of this project?" [I assumed it'll be the £5K plus £20K, but now I'm not sure it can just be assumed. Perhaps the total required is even more?]

If all else fails, we can obviously go to the library to find out the answers, but it's a great shame when members of public have to jump through hoops to find out how public money is being spent in their own town. And it hardly inspires confidence or support!

A green garden would certainly be more pleasant on the eye than plain concrete, but a car park isn't to look at - fundamentally, we're talking about the practicalities of a car park that's at or near 100% capacity for much of the day.

Besides, if we start permanently losing public car park spaces for the sake of a garden for a few, what's the betting that the next mosque application will claim that by setting such a precedent, car parking is therefore no longer a concern to residents and businesses?

Unimpressed Library Regular said...

Today, I visited the library and read the garden plan for myself. It states that the intention is to commandeer the two disabled parking spaces (nearest the entrance) and simply direct disabled drivers to park somewhere in Windsor Road. Why, how thoughtful!

Before announcing a plan to send those with disabilities into exile, perhaps the author has overlooked the fact that (due to restricted mobility) probably a higher than average proportion of them actually like spending time in gardens. [Though obviously they're not welcome to use this one].

However, though whoever wrote this plan has very little regard for those with any kind of disability. it's obviously nothing personal. Reading the rest of the opinionated agenda, it seems the author has little regard for anyone who appears to be in the way of this objective.

guest said...

If the garden had been built at the same time as the library would anyone now be supporting its conversion to a car park?
I see it as catching up with what 'should' have been done in 2000.
Can't think of anywhere pleasant to sit the length of Central Road, so it's time we pedestrians had some say. Increasing numbers of people can't be bothered to walk anywhere, which is a factor in the noticeable increase in obesity.
"Won't walk" today will become "can't walk" tomorrow.

guest said...

Does anyone know how much use is made of the parking spaces for the disabled?
And whether the people concerned use them solely to visit the library? If they are typically shopping as well it may not make much difference if the parking spaces are elsewhere. The slope from Windsor Road is quite shallow down to the library so shouldn't present problems.
The library staff will have a good idea of who uses them, but I don't recall seeing either space being used.

guest said...

Not everyone wants to sit in the garden of a pub, with the stench of stale beer!

guest D said...

The disabled spaces are in fairly constant use, or at least they seem to be whenever I visit that area.

The biggest issue with using Windsor Road for Blue Badge parking is that most disabled drivers/ passengers have issues with getting out of cars, thus the need for extra wide bays. Now Windsor Road is a major through route and narrowed, it would be extremely dangerous to put a Blue Badge bay there.

In general it's not the slope but the quality of the walking surface and the distance that matters to disabled people. I think Sutton use the 30 metre/100 feet criteria. If you can walk further than this without servere issues you will not qualify for a Blue Badge.

Any way as Sutton have annouced that they are reducing the opening hours of WP Library, it may be that the whole argument is irrelevant as they may decide to just get rid of all branch libraries and move more services on to the internet.

Unimpressed Library Regular said...

A garden wasn't built in 2000 because then, as now, it represents a crazy vanity project for a few and a misuse of already insufficient car parking space for the many.

And yes, if a garden had been built in 2000, and lied empty for much for the time and much of the year, all those many shoppers who had been forced to drive elsewhere to find a parking place would have been crying out for it to become badly needed parking spaces. By 2001, no doubt Sutton Council would have made the obvious and logical conversion to a car park.

You seem to be under the impression that sitting in a local garden drinking coffee represents a form of exercise and an antidote to obesity. I would have thought walking up and down Central Road from shop to shop and pushing a loaded trolley around Waitrose would have burnt up rather more calories than sitting on a backside, consuming calories and watching someone desperately searching for a parking place.

If you desperately want a garden somewhere near Central Road, what's wrong with a garden behind the parade of shops near the station? Apparently, having cleared it, Sutton Council are even ACTIVELY "welcoming ideas" for it. There it won't impact on parking or any other aspect of the street. There you go! Problem solved!

Or is it that those who want a garden only want it on their own doorsteps, and it is they who are the selfish few, who either can't or won't walk for 2 minutes to a garden that they so desperately want?

Unimpressed Library Regular said...

The disabled spaces are indeed in regular use, throughout the day and throughout the year - unlike a garden would. And if you ever try walking the length of Windsor Road, it should be immediately apparent that it is extremely steep.

However, it's apparent that just like the full capacity situation in the car park, none of this is of any interest or concern to those few who are rigidly committed to the rest of us financing their garden, at any cost to anyone and everyone in Worcester Park.

guest said...

The "antidote to obesity" is not pandering to the car-bound.

honneybee said...

Did you really look at the plan that carefully ... I did and it is clear that the disabled parking places are not to be removed just moved. One just outside the library doors and one on the end of the parking boys opposite the ticket machine .

Unimpressed Library Regular said...

Yes honeybee, I looked really, really closely. So carefully in fact that I can quote point 5 of the plan, which states, quote:

"Disabled parking could be transferred to Windsor Road", unquote.

I'd say that was a pretty clear intention to remove the disabled parking places and direct anyone needing them to Windsor Road.

Also there was no other mention of disabled parking within the plan, so I'm not sure where you've managed to interpret something different... unless of course, the plan has been covertly changed since yesterday?

Unimpressed Library Regular said...

Neither is the "antidote to obesity" pandering to a few sitting on their backsides, consuming calories and watching everyone else struggle and fail to find somewhere to park, go shopping ...and get some exercise walking around town.

honneybee said...

The plan that was shown at the library on Saturday morning shows two disabled parking spaces .

Unimpressed Library Regular said...

That's the same plan that states, quote, "Disabled parking could be transferred to Windsor Road", unquote, is it? Have a read of it for yourself and while you are there, have a look at the steep gradient in Windsor Road, which supporters of this scheme seem to interpret and show as flat...

Mr McGregor said...

Mr Blogger, what happened to the £25,000 library garden plan that many thought a vanity project?

The last entry I can find is ..."Jackie, who chairs the group told the blog that they have since applied for a £20,000 grant from the Mayor's Office and should hear next month if they have been successful or not." ... that was back in August. Have I missed the update?

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