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Decision Relating to the Library/Arts Centre at Gayton Road

Minutes:

In relation to the Library/arts Centre at Gayton Road, Cabinet had resolved to “agree not to proceed with the Cabinet decision to develop a combined library/arts centre at Gayton Road taken on 14 December 2006, minuted as item 152;” a call?in notice had subsequently been received, calling in the decision which was referred to the Call?in Sub?Committee for consideration under the call?in procedure. 

 

The decision had been called-in on two grounds:

 

·                     inadequate consultation with stakeholders prior to the decision;

 

·                     the absence of adequate evidence on which to base the decision.

 

A Member representing the signatories to the call?in expressed his concern at Cabinet’s decision regarding the Library/arts Centre as he felt that the decision had been made without being properly thought through.  He reminded Members that in December 2004, a cross-party decision had been taken to rebuild and modernise Gayton Library, incorporating the Civic Centre library and to create a performance and exhibition space within the Town Centre.  Subsequently, the Town Centre and Major Projects Panel (TCMPP) - formerly known as the Town Centre Project Panel) was established to consider the strategic overview of the development.  The Panel consisted of four advisors who were experts in their various fields.  A Recommendation from the Panel to Cabinet with the proposal was subsequently agreed.  The Member felt that to revoke such a major and key decision made by Cabinet was wrong and against internal and external policies and procedures.  The decision was also wrong as there had been no consultation with residents and stakeholders, and no views had been sought.  Businesses and stakeholders alike would be affected by the revised infrastructure yet no one was notified of the proposals.  Again the advisors on the TCMPP were left out of the loop and the decision bypassed the TCMPP and the Local Development Framework Panel.  The advisers of the TCMPP had architectural, town planning, traffic and environmental expertise and were not given the opportunity to share their knowledge and concerns on the revised proposal.  Residents ought to have been consulted on whether they preferred the option to build 1500 homes or a performance/exhibition space.  He advised Members that residents had requested a performance/exhibition space for some time, something which the Town Centre lacked.  He also felt that the proposal ought to have been referred to the Local Development Framework Panel and/or the TCMPP for consultation prior to being submitted to Cabinet.

 

Members who invoked the call-in also raised concerns with the proposal to relocate Gayton Road library to Garden House for five years, and raised the following points:

 

·                     There had been no consultation with residents and stakeholders.

 

·                     Garden House was a five storey building with a single lift and not accessible to all.

 

·                     Garden House was a third rate temporary replacement.

 

·                     There was no parking provision.

 

·                     A site for the new library had not been identified.

 

·                     Harrow’s Compact had been disregarded.

 

·                     An Equalities Impact Assessment had not been undertaken.

 

·                     The Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been bypassed.  The Committee should have been given the opportunity to scrutinise the changes in the mixed use development.

Members invoking the call-in also felt that there had been inadequate evidence to support the decision made by Cabinet and requested that the Library/Arts Centre at Gayton Road be referred to Cabinet for reconsideration.

 

Responding, the Portfolio Holder, Finance and Portfolio Co-ordination, made the following points:

 

·                     the Authority was committed to establishing a Central Library, which would serve Harrow Town Centre and be included in the new infrastructure;

 

·                     the current financial position of the Authority had to dictate what was achievable; the original costing was £9.75 million in 2004, but in reality, by July 2007, it had amounted into the region of £22 million;

 

·                     there were no requirements within the UDP for the provision of a performance/exhibition space in the Town Centre, although Greenhill Way car park was a potential site which could accommodate a Central Library;

 

·                     the impact of the proposed new infrastructure would be considered within the planning applications;

 

·                     this Administration would ensure that the Borough’s leisure and cultural facilities would be provided within the strategic framework, and ensure that the development would be modern and fit for purpose;

 

·                     the decision taken by Cabinet was not contrary to Harrow’s Compact Agreement;

 

Members of the Sub-Committee, having considered all the evidence, summarised their views relating to the grounds for call-in. Based on the written and oral submissions, and having been put to a vote, it was

 

RESOLVED:  That the grounds for the call-in be rejected and the decision of the Cabinet on 8 November 2007 relating to the Library/arts Centre at Gayton Road be implemented.