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A campaign to "Save Our Dugdale" has been launched after community groups which use rooms on the first floor of the Dugdale Centre were told that they will no longer be available from this September. In response, Enfield Council has explained that it plans to use the accommodation to improve services for children and families.

A petition started by Emma Rigby, founder of Love Your Doorstep, has attracted nearly a thousand supporters. It accuses the "killjoys" at the council of "plunging a dagger deep into the heart of culture in Enfield" and failing to appreciate that art and culture are not elitist, but bring life to communities. The council's plan has also been widely criticised on social media.

save our dugdale

The Enfield community are shocked to hear about the first floor of The Dugdale been taken over as council office space which will affect appears many community groups who use the space.

Years has been poured into creating the Dugdale as a community and cultural hub for our borough. Please sign the petition if you are against this happening. 

"The Council have plunged a dagger deep into the heart of culture in Enfield. As from September the first floor of the Dugdale Centre is to be converted to offices so all the community groups that meet there are without a base. As well as Enfield Poets groups such as the Young Talent Academy with 150 youngsters suddenly without a rehearsal space. The council lack understanding of how a community without the soul art and culture brings - they teach us to feel - is just an administered collection of buildings. Art is not elitist as has been claimed it brings us life. The Dugdale is more than the individual groups, its synergy has created a cutural center of great value to Enfield".

The first-floor rooms in Thomas Hardy House - the official name of the building housing the Dugdale - are currently hired by community and cultural groups, such as the Young Talent Academy and the Enfield Poets, who use them for regular rehearsals and readings. Other groups, such as the Enfield Climate Action Forum, use them for occasional meetings.

The groups using the rooms were informed by email that they would not be available from 1st September:

"Please be aware that the 1st floor rooms at the Dugdale Centre will be unavailable for hire from the 1st September 2020 onwards as it is very likely that it will be in use by a department in the council. Therefore all bookings made from 1st September 2020 onwards for the Dugdale Centre 1st floor rooms will unfortunately be cancelled.

"The venues that we have room availability for now are Green Towers at Edmonton Green, Salisbury House in Bush Hill and Forty Hall in North Enfield which you can book through us."

A statement issued by the council on Friday explains that it wishes to use the accommodation to create a centralised Children and Family Services Hub. By bringing together staff currently in various locations it would provide better services in superior accommodation that is easier for customers and staff to access, boost the retail economy in Enfield Town and save money, which would be redirected to improve services to young and vulnerable people. Should the plan go ahead, the existing café, museum and Dugdale Theatre will remain.

Acknowledging that the changes would "inconvenience" groups that use the Dugdale, the statement says that they will have six months to find new accommodation and the council has offered to help them do so.

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The proposal has been the subject of many critical tweets and Facebook posts

Statement by Enfield Council

You may have seen rumours circulating on social media about the Council planning to close the Dugdale Centre. These rumours are not true.

Enfield Council is working to ensure its buildings provide the best possible services for the borough’s residents.  In order to provide a modern and integrated Children and Family Services Hub we are currently looking at relocating a number of teams into well-equipped and maintained office space on the first floor of Thomas Hardy House (where the Dugdale Theatre is located).

This town centre location will be more accessible for residents and allow them to visit related services in a single location. Bringing additional staff into Enfield town centre, who are currently based on industrial estates, will also bring a boost to local shops and businesses.

A final decision is yet to be taken and the Council’s cabinet will decide whether to proceed with these plans – which we have called our “Build the Change” programme - on 11 March. If they do, the existing café, museum and Dugdale theatre will remain at Thomas Hardy House where residents will be able to continue to use and enjoy them.

While we appreciate that the repurposing of Thomas Hardy House may inconvenience a small number of organisations which hire space there, we have engaged them in a timely manner to give them over six months to find suitable alternative premises. We have also offered to help them to find different buildings.

Moving Council teams from other buildings to create the Children and Family Services Hub will contribute to generating over half a million pounds savings annually which can then be invested in better services for young and vulnerable people.

The wider “Build the Change” programme seeks to bring staff together in fewer, better-equipped and maintained buildings in parts of Enfield which are easier for our staff and residents to get to.  As well as a new Children and Family Services Hub, we a looking to create a new Housing Hub at Edmonton Green which will include the housing and homelessness services alongside outreach services to be provided in community hubs.

"Build the Change"

The proposed Children and Families Services hub is part of the council's "Build the Change" programme, which also includes a Housing and Homelessness Hub at Edmonton Green. They are included in the Corporate Property Investment Programme, to be discussed at the cabinet meeting on 11th March.

Build the Change is a package of efficiency measures and service improvements involving modernisation of IT systems and consolidation of services on fewer sites.

Children and Family Services staff are currently based at Charles Babbage House (near Carterhatch Lane), in premises on the Claverings Industrial Estate and in Triangle House, Palmers Green. Moving the staff to Thomas Hardy House would allow the council to stop paying rent for Triangle House and to sell Charles Babbage House. The first floor of Thomas Hardy House would be reconfigured to provide office and meeting/family conference facilities for Children's Services. Some staff currently based in Thomas Hardy House would be relocated to the Civic Centre.

Moving Housing and Homelessness Services to Edmonton Green would allow the closure of John Wilkes House in Ponders End High Street and its release for sale for housing development subject to planning consent.

Benefits from Build the Change are forecast to include improved staff productivity and job satisfaction, making the council an attractive place to work and able to recruit high quality staff, with improved staff retention. The newly created community hubs would "deliver conveniently located multi­purpose hubs in town centres, offering single access points for service provision (including partners), delivery of community activities and events, creating community office space. These Hubs will grow and improve Enfield's Town Centres, making Enfield a great place to work and live."

This article was updated on 7th March to correct an error about the cabinet meeting agenda and to provide more information about the Build the Change programme.

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PGC Webmaster posted a reply #5293 15 Mar 2020 23:50

Enfield's cabinet endorsed the creation of a Children's and Families Services hub on the first floor of the Dugdale at its meeting last Wednesday.

Mark Bradbury, Director of Property and Economy, provided the following update to Palmers Green Community:

"We are already in discussion with some groups affected and will be in touch with the remainder. In reality it is a small number of organisations, many of the users are commercial using it for training or meeting space. the Council is already the main user of the space, and we expect to be able to assist all community and cultural groups to find alternative space."

Local Democracy Reporter Simon Allin has published a couple of reports about the controversial changes at the Dugdale:

Part of Dugdale Centre in Enfield could be converted into offices

Enfield chiefs defend turning Dugdale Centre into offices

The second of these quotes Cabinet member for children’s services Cllr Rick Jewell's explanation of why the current youth offending service base, at Claverings Industrial Estate, was “not a nice place” for staff, young people, crime victims, families or volunteers.
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PGC Webmaster posted a reply #5368 06 Jun 2020 16:17

The Enfield Society continue to have concerns about the future of Enfield Council's Museum and Archives Service when the first floor of the Dugdale Centre is taken over by a planned new Children's and Families Services hub (see the discussion thread above for the background to this).

The Society held a meeting with council leader Nesil Caliskan on 15th May (presumably online) and raised this issue. On their website they report:

The Enfield Society was given a very unsatisfactory response and there appears to be no definite decision yet as to whether they these services stay in the building or not. The temporary exhibition gallery on the ground floor will not move but the issue is the museum permanent display and the archive reading room and storage on the first floor.

See also see Enfield Society News, 218, page 2 and this article in Enfield Dispatch .