Sunday 12 October 2014

Willesden Green Cultural Centre space to be let for 'income generation' rather than One Stop service for residents

When residents opposed the redevelopment of Willesden Green Library and the consequent loss of the Willesden Bookshop, cinema, cafe, museum, art gallery and meeting rooms they were assured that the community would gain not only a Cultural Centre but a Brent Council customer service that would mirror that on offer at the new Civic Centre in Wembley. LINK

The Future Customer Service Project aims to improve efficiency and clarity of the services offered to citizens. The strategy is dependent on developing a new customer contact centre at WGLC providing a service for the south of the borough, an area where many of the Council‟s high need customers reside.
Now a report from Andy Donald to be considered by the Cabinet tomorrow will recommend as part of a new  'Customer Access Strategy' that this be ditched.  The new strategy will rely mainly on Internet access where library staff might help residents get on to the system and a replacement for the telephone system that was installed at the Civic Centre just two years ago.

The report LINK states:

There are other implications for this approach in respect of the new Library at Willesden, including the opportunity to make use of the surplus space in the new building for alternative uses that are of public benefit and in keeping with the ethos of the building. It is proposed that the Council enter into a local dialogue about options for alternative uses in the space. Any use of the space will need to be income generating and as a minimum will need to cover the proportionate running costs such as Business Rates, heating, lighting, cleaning and maintenance.
This news comes on top of the controversy over the  development's luxury apartments, which have already been onward sold twice by property companies before completion, and which have been marketed abroad as investment opportunities with the 'benefit' of  no affordable or key worker housing on site.

Latest prices included £450,000 for a one bedroom flat.

The new strategy will also include changes at the Civic Centre:

The Civic Centre Service Centre includes dedicated self service space on the ground floor which has proved to be very popular with visitors. Members of staff are available within this area to assist visitors to use the self service facilities and also to encourage use of on line services where these are available. The current configuration of the Service Centre will need to be adapted to meet the increasing demand for self service with a concurrent reduction to the numbers of visitors requiring a more traditional face to face interview. Proposals are therefore being drawn up to change the layout of the service centre at the Civic Centre to reflect the need for greater self service provision in the future and to relocate the reception from the mezzanine floor to the ground floor to ensure that visitors’ needs can be quickly assessed when they approach the ground floor area.
It sounds like one of those supermarkets where you find all the tills are self-service.

The report states (original English in the report retained):
Face to face interview will continue to be available for residents who need a more help and assistance in resolving their enquiry.
But it appears that these are likely to be only available on a weekly basis and by appointment:

.        An equality impact assessment for the new community access strategy is attached as Appendix C. The overall impact assessment indicates that the extension of on line access to services could benefit many protected groups providing easy and convenient access on a 24/7 basis. As all channels of contact will remain available, the strategy offers all residents, including those in protected groups enhanced and improved access arrangements. The reconfiguration of the Services centre at Willesden will reduce the availability of face to face interviews with officers, however these will still be available at the Civic Centre and at Willesden by way of a weekly surgery. Residents using self service computers located in the library at Willesden will also be able to speak to an officer using free phones to assist them with any enquiries or to support them through the self service process. During the early stages of the opening of the new Willesden library, staff will be available to provide details about the options available for face to face enquiries from both the Civic Centre and Willesden.


Anonymous said...

How interesting that the Cabinet are considering this report tomorrow, they've just emailed Willesden residents inviting them to an event on 27th October offering them "a chance to take part in design workshops for the interior" and "to give your views on how the community can be involved and put this building at the centre of life in Willesden".

By the time this resident input event occurs the decision will already have been made. Sound familiar?

Martin Francis said...

Oh ye of little faith! You will have the privilege of saying whether you prefer Starbucks or Costa in the now vacant space. What is that if it is not 'helping to shape our community'?

Martin Francis said...

Here is the invitation to residents referred to in comment at 17.14 above:

Dear Stakeholder

I would like to warmly invite you to a meeting later this month that will give you the chance to support the development of The Library at Willesden Green. We want to ensure that local people play a key role in shaping what happens in the new facility, due to open in the summer of 2015. The meeting agenda will include:

• An update on progress with the building and services

• A presentation from the building designers and a chance to take part in design workshops for the interior

• A chance to give your views on how the community can be involved and put this building at the centre of life in Willesden

The details of the meeting are below. If you have any questions please get in contact with me.

Monday 27 October 2014 6:30-8:30pm

St Andrews Parish Centre, 2 St Andrews Road, NW10 2QS

Refreshments provided

Anonymous said...

What a terrible shame.

Anonymous said...

Style and vocabulary of the message displays the true bureaucratic stink (to adapt a phrase) of this kind of going-through-the-motions bullshit. The usual bum-wibble.

Mike Hine

Nan Tewari said...

It was obvious when during the reconfiguration of Brent's customer services that the south of the borough was getting a raw deal. This is hardly surprising when you look at the make-up of Brent's senior management who don't live in the borough. Then again, even £700 per day wouldn't go very far in Brent with one bed flats being flogged at 450 grand a go.

Anonymous said...

That's why you need a couple of other income streams on the go, I suppose ........