THE NEW CLR James Dalston Library opened today – but without the controversial café and coffee bar.
Businessman Gurkan Bozdere says that he “signed off” on the contract only last week because Hackney council had been slow to resolve his worries about security and other matters at his new premises. He and his father also run the Sömine restaurant in Kingsland High Street.
He told Loving Dalston: “The council seemed to close down around Christmas and New Year. It took a long time to get agreement on the contract.”
The delay in getting keys meant that he had been unable to install catering equipment. He was nevertheless confident that he would be ready for business before the end of this month, January 2012.
Jonathan McShane, the council’s community-services cabinet member, said: “Dalston CLR James Library opened this morning [Mon 23 Jan ’12] and is already proving a hit with local people. Though the café is taking a little longer than we would have wanted, it will be open in about four weeks.”
The setback comes soon after Bozdere was criticised by commenters to local blogs and websites that had not given the locally raised entrepreneur a chance to respond to reports that he would make the café a Starbucks.
When Loving Dalston approached him, he said that the only sign of the US company would be a notice saying “We proudly serve Starbucks”.
In the library proper, there are also signs of incompleteness: disabled access for example, although Loving Dalston was told that would be improved. Overall, however, the £4.8 million facility shows the potential to become a great and useful attraction.
The library’s move from the postwar building 100m east to a site closer to Dalston Junction station has suffered several delays: the opening date was postponed several times. And Hackney found itself in the midst of a controversy after this site revealed in February 2010 that the council planned to drop the name of CLR James, the Trinidadian writer who lived for many years in Brixton, where he died in 1989.
After further Loving Dalston stories, an internet petition attracted thousands of signatures, and the council backtracked to say it would reinstate the name.
The revelations had a similar result for the Rose Lipman name on the archives premises in Downham Road, De Beauvoir N1. Hackney had intended to drop the title when the archives moved to the new library – until McShane said that “Rose Lipman” would stay on the De Beauvoir building.
David Altheer 230112
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