Repair Cafe threatened with closure!

Dear All

I hope from time to time you have had the benefit of the Repair Cafe which for the last 3 yrs has been operating every Thursday evening in the library. Essex County Council have decided to charge all groups wanting to use any library!

The Repair Cafe works on a donations basis and we rarely get £5 in donations, our volunteers have committed to weekly sessions and they are all fantastic and deserve better.

This is the email I received from ECC:

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you but the charges/fees for use of library space have now been settled.

For you to use the library in Wivenhoe 5.30 – 7 p.m every Thursday will be £15. ( £10 per hour ).  If this is acceptable please could you let us know. In the meantime I will contact Eammon to find out how your current licence stands timewise.

My reply:

I'm afraid this is not acceptable, we run a free service for members of the public occasionally we receive donations. If we are to be charged for this valuable service which reduces landfill and is a necessary solution to reduce impact on the environment we will withdraw from the library.

If you feel motivated enough please send your objections to; Gavin Jones, Chief Executive Essex County Council

Many thanks for considering us.

Chris Blomeley, Repair Cafe Coordinator & Repair Reuse Recycle Coordinator

Facebook; Repair Reuse Recycle CIC; please give us a thumbs up...

Please remember to donate your unwanted white goods to us. 



  • Email sent.
  • Just had a response from Gavin Jones.  He is apparently looking into it and I should expect a reply within ten days.
  • I've also written to him:

    I am writing to protest against the decision to levy charges on the excellent work undertaken by our local repair café at Wivenhoe Library.  Given the overwhelming need for Essex, and indeed the entire country to reduce waste & recycle as much as possible, how can this move possibly be seen in any favourable light?

    Many charitable groups also use the facilities of our part-time library, and I understood Essex were in the forefront of the initiative to maximise the use of these premises as 'community hubs'.  Am I mistaken in this?

    I'd gently suggest a re-thinking of this decision in order to avoid a potential media disaster for ECC.

  • edited September 1
    Step 1 - Start charging charities and small community groups for using previously free library space.
    Step 2 - Complain fewer people are using the library when groups inevitably move elsewhere or shut down completely.
    Step 3 - Close library, tell people to go to Colchester instead.
    Step 4 - Sell space to developer for housing.

    Cynical, moi?

    Anyway, will send off an email this weekend.
  • edited September 2
    KatC said:
    Step 1 - Start charging charities and small community groups for using previously free library space.
    Step 2 - Complain fewer people are using the library when groups inevitably move elsewhere or shut down completely.
    Step 3 - Close library, tell people to go to Colchester instead.
    Step 4 - Sell space to developer for housing.

    Cynical, moi?

    Anyway, will send off an email this weekend.
    Cynical?  I thought that was a cut and paste from the ECC website.

    £10 per hour doesn't sound like a lot of money and would probably only amount to about £750 per year. 

    Small change, if, like Gavin Jones, you are trousering £195,000 per annum at the public's expense.

    So what do we get for our money?

    "Previously he was Chief Executive of Swindon Borough Council, initially joining in 2003 to work alongside its interim Chief Executive to help stabilise what was at that time a failing authority.
    Following his appointment as Chief Executive in 2006, he drove a programme of improvement and transformation, helping secure savings of more than £300 million and raising the profile of the Council. "

    And no doubt his salary.

    "Essex County Council is one of the biggest and most high profile public authorities in the country and the Chief Executive is looked to nationally as one of the most influential people in local government.


    But, more importantly, Gavin oversees local services which impact on our most vulnerable in society, while at the same time driving forward innovation and the changes we need to make to our organisation."
    I'm not making this up"Gavin also develops and drives strategies to promote resilient, independent communities, underpinned by active volunteering and engagement, robust prevention and early intervention programmes."
    Which sounds like good news for the Repair Café.

    Obviously you can contact Gavin via e-mail:

    or by phone:  033301 38585

    At the end of the day we need more Chris Blomeleys and fewer Gavin Jones, keep up the good work Chris.

  • I've written too. Just astounding.
  • Given the Library is open anyway on Thursday no extra heating/lighting or other costs are incurred by the Repair Cafe  so this is pure opportunism on the County's part but perhaps KatC is right and the real agenda is to close the Library. 
  • Me too, gave him a right talking to. I bet he will be getting a really nice healthy pension pot too, driving up his salary by a percentage of his savings, banking his profits:  clearly not needing to think about repairing his electrics or saving his landfill taxes.
  • Email sent and cc to Julie Young, who already replied saying that she's on to it.
  • The Citizens Advice Bureau also uses the Library.  Are they also going to have to pay? There is a children's story group too, I think.
  • edited September 2
    The Essex County Council, Recycle for Essex website has a handy list of places where you can recycle small electrical items:

    Make the most of old electricals

    Braintree Library - Fairfield Road, Braintree, CM7 3YLBrightlingsea Library - New Street, Brightlingsea, CO7 0BZCanvey Island Library - High Street, Canvey Island, SS8 7RBChelmsford Library - County Hall, Market Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1QHClacton Library - Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, CO15 1SFColchester Library - Trinity Square, Colchester, CO1 1JBEarls Colne Library - 38 High Street, Earls Colne, CO6 2PAFrinton Library - 59 Old Road, Frinton-on-Sea, CO13 9DAGalleywood Library - Watchouse Road, Galleywood, CM2 8PUGreat Baddow Library - 27 High Street, Great Baddow, CM2 7HHGreat Tarpots Library - 127 London Road, Benfleet, SS7 5UHHadleigh Library - 180 London Road, Hadleigh, SS7 2PDHalstead Library - Bridge Street, Halstead, CO9 1HUHarwich Library - Upper Kingsway, CO12 3JTHockley Library - Southend Road, Hockley, SS5 4PZHolland Library - Public Hall, Frinton Road, Holland-on-Sea, CO15 5URHullbridge Library - Ferry Road, Hullbridge, SS5 6ETKelvedon Library - Aylett's Foundation School, Maldon Road, CO5 9BAManningtree Library - High Street, Manningtree, CO11 1ADNorth Melbourne Library - Dickens Place, Copperfield Road, Chelmsford, CM1 4UURayleigh Library - 132/4 High Street, Rayleigh, SS6 7BXRochford Library - 8 Roche Close, Rochford, SS4 1PXSaffron Walden Library - 2 King Street, CB10 1ESSible Hedingham Library - 169 Swan Street, Sible Hedingham, CO9 3PXSouth Benfleet Library - 264 High Road, Benfleet, SS7 5HDSouth Woodham Ferrers Library - Trinity Square, South Woodham Ferrers, CM3 5JUSpringfield Library - St Augustine's Way, Chelmsford, CM1 6GXWalton Library - 52 High Street, Walton-on-the-Naze, CO14 8AEWest Clacton Library - Jaywick Lane, Clacton-on-Sea, CO16 8BEWitham Library - 18 Newland Street, Witham, CM8 2AQWivenhoe Library - 104/6 High Street, Wivenhoe, CO7 9ABWrittle Library - 45 The Green, Writtle, Chelmsford, CM1 3DTAnyone notice a theme? :/ Obviously this kind of joined up thinking doesn't come cheap.

  • There is no reason for the Repair Cafe to close down in these circumstances. It just needs a bit of enterprising thinking.

    Watch this space.
  • Or a bit of push-back against so-called "austerity" and politicians who seek to "monetize" absolutely everything.

  • I received a reply from Gavin Jones today, to which I responded, below.  Watch this space...?

    Thank you for your considered response.  However, I still can't see why it's necessary to levy ANY charge on an essential activity which contributes to the work of E.C.C., when the library is open at this time, therefore no additional costs accrue to the library service.

    The more you prohibit such activity in 'library hubs', the more you compromise & endanger the overall concept, and the future well-being of the community & the library itself.  I am sure you must see this?

    Yours sincerely

    George McKissock

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Gavin Jones, Chief Executive <>
    To: gmckissock <>
    Sent: Fri, 15 Sep 2017 11:23
    Subject: RE: Charges levied on Repair Cafe in Wivenhoe Library - Ecc3067104 09 17

    Dear Mr McKissock
    Thank you for your email dated 1 September 2017 regarding the Repair Café at Wivenhoe Library. I appreciate that this is an important issue.
    I recognise and understand that activities, such as the Repair Café, encourages people from the local community to reduce, recycle and reuse items and are pleased that this has been running successfully within Wivenhoe Library.
    Essex County Council (ECC) has, following due consideration, introduced charges for renting space in all Essex Libraries from July of this year. This does require that a contribution be made to use library space for most activities that are not covered by the core library service. Given the unprecedented demographic and financial challenges faced by local authorities, it is necessary that ECC considers areas of discretionary provision to make most efficient use of increasingly scarce public resources.
    Introducing an element of cost recovery for property usage is intended to help the Council to be able to ensure sustainable libraries and services in the future. We appreciate that any new charging can be difficult for users, although we will be investing those funds back into the library service. This will further allow us to continue to offer a diversity of library services across the county and continue to make spaces available for community use at competitive rates.
    The charge that we are intending to make for use of library space by the Repair Café is at our lowest concessionary rate of £5 per hour. We understand that even this lower rate may cause some problems for the Repair Café operatives, and colleagues in Waste Prevention are supporting a bid for some external funds to help support the activity going forward.
    I am grateful that you took the time to provide feedback and I trust that this response helps to explain the situation in a broader context and assures you of our best intentions at all times

  • A quick plug for Wivenhoe Repair Reuse Recycle. They provide a highly skilled, knowledgable, fast and friendly service for a very reasonable fee.

    If, like me, you have a faulty item and the 5 or 10 year "parts" guarantee is not worth the paper it is written on (i.e. the corporates will only honour it if you pay an exorbitant fee for their engineers to do the work) then give these guys a call rather than doing what the corporates really want you to do (which is scrap the faulty appliance and buy a new one).

  • Whats happened about to ECC charge ?
  • There are a number of other groups using Wivenhoe and Colchester libraries, and I understand that the book groups are not charged.  I wonder about the U3A  sewing/knitting group in Colchester and the Citizens Advice Bureau.  I had a response from Gavin Jones, on the same line as that above, equally long, but not a duplicate.  Therefore this chap has lots of time to tap out long-winded and self-indulgent responses individually tailored:  clearly he could be put onto a part-time basis, saving lots more money for the library service and pre-empting the need for charging for community services that provide a better 'library experience' for local communities.
  • Now, there's a thought...  ;)
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