In response to all who wrote to me regarding the situation at the Exchange Space in Temple Bar, thank you for your correspondence and the commitment that you’ve all shown for the Exchange and its ideas.
However, over the past two years serious issues have arisen in the area. The primary issue is one of anti-social behaviour. While this anti-social behaviour issue is a general issue for Temple Bar area itself, there emerged a specific issue around Exchange and some of its users. There also arose an issue around certain weaknesses in the management of the building that Exchange uses. On many occasions the residents in the housing complex at Smock Alley have witnessed and experienced threatening and abusive behaviour and in the many meetings that we have had with them both on the street and also in formal meetings that were attended by all stakeholders in the area (business, Exchange and Residents) these concerns were established as fact.
Initially Exchange responded positively to better management suggestions of the space and the issues abated. However, they quickly reemerged to the concerns of residents who clearly identified the Exchange as a main source of their concerns. Prior to the suspension a meeting was organized to take place between Exchange staff and DCC staff and the interim CEO of Temple Bar Cultural Trust (who own the building) to work out an amicable arrangement for the continuation of Exchange’s program at another location. Below is the answer to a question that I put before the Area manager of Dublin city Council.
I would like to say that I’ve continuously supported the Exchange in their activities and also in doing my best to retain them at their present location at Exchange Street. I have liaised with the staff there for over four years now and have been staunch. However it became very obvious that certain things needed to change in this area and in the management and the way it was being run. This area is a residential area and people need to live together and cooperate together and show respect. That respect and trust broke down and now it needs to be fixed. It was suggested that the Exchange be suspended for a period of 3 months at the most recent meeting to give everybody a chance to cool off, identify the source of the problem and take it from there.
It would have been better for Exchange management to explain to their supporters what this whole situation was about rather then creating the one sided affair that was making them out to be the victims. Its this lack of responsibility to the overall area thats at the core of the issue here.
This is all normal stuff that goes on in the everday. Its called solutions to problems. It is not an attack on Exchange or its values. It is about protecting Exchange, its values and the values of the neighbourhood, the residents and the local business community as well as visitors to the area.
Councillor Mannix Flynn
Can the Manager issue a report regarding the issue of unacceptable behaviour in and around Essex Street West, Cows Lane, Smock Alley? This report also to include what methods are being employed to ensure effective management of Exchange centre at Essex St.
The Dublin City Council team at Temple Bar Cultural Trust(TBCT) have met with the Exchange following on a residents, councillors, businesses and Gardai meeting arranged by South East Area Office on Jan 23.
At a meeting between the CEO of TBCT and representatives of the Exchange on January 29th 2014. The following was agreed:
1. The Exchange is a very valuable resource for many young people and has a dedicated group of volunteers working very hard to run events and provide a centre were young people can develop and express themselves though cultural and other social activities.
2. TBCT and its owner, Dublin City Council, have understandable concerns for the competent and secure operation of the building and have had to deal with serious complaints from residents and businesses about growing anti-social behaviour in and around Exchange Street that affects everyone in the area including the Exchange and where some former members of the Exchange may be involved. The Exchange has worked hard to address this but cannot do so alone.
3. In order to protect and develop this service and to distance The Exchange from this behaviour, TBCT and Dublin City Council will assist The Exchange in vacating the building starting on Saturday February 1st 2014. This will involve TBCT taking control of the building and over the week of February 3rd 2014 helping the Exchange move their equipment and furniture out. Events at the Exchange that have been organised and booked in advance may still take place up to February 8 2014 by agreement with TBCT.
4. It is Dublin City Council’s and TBCT’s intention to develop a working partnership with The Exchange and to help this co-operative develop new management structures and formal engagement with statutory agencies.
5. It is also Dublin City Council’s/TBCT’s wish that the residents and businesses of the West End of Temple Bar be given the opportunity to review the anti-social behaviour in the area without the Exchange present for at least a period of three months.
6. TBCT will on an event by event basis allow the Exchange to use Culture Box on East Essex Street subject to availability and written agreement. Culture Box may also be used by both parties to meet and work on future plans together.
7. All sides acknowledge that in the short term events will be cancelled and young people will be disappointed and that this is regrettable, however all concerned want to focus on long term development.
8. A review of this agreement will take place every month on the 1st of the month or as close to as possible. After three months the viability of re-entering the current building will be assessed.
9. Dublin City Council will use its best offices to secure another building for The Exchange if re-entry is not viable.
Meanwhile the South East Area Office and the Dublin City Council team at TBCT will work closely with all involved and the Gardai to continue to address anti-social behaviour in this area.