Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Letter to the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council

For the record, below is the email that Declan sent this afternoon to the Leader of Tower Hamlets Council, Councillor Lutfur Rahman, concerning Idea Store Whitechapel, the borough’s flagship library, learning and information service. We frequently run into trouble in this library, especially with internet access and computer bookings; but this afternoon it was particularly bad: I was bullied by two security guards into vacating (which I didn't do) the computer I had booked, and told by a member of staff that I was lying. Although Declan is tired of writing to Cllr. Rahman on the subject, he felt he was left with little choice in the circumstances.

Subject: Idea Store Whitechapel

Dear Cllr. Rahman,

I am writing to you in your capacity as Leader of Tower Hamlets Council to refer further to the attached copy of my most recent correspondence with the former Head of Idea Stores, Mr. Ian McNicol, to whom the former Leader of Tower Hamlets Council, Cllr. Denise Jones, referred my original complaint of 21 January 2008 regarding Idea Store Whitechapel and the repeated loss of computer bookings and internet access on both my wife's card (card no. D000350314) and my card (card no. D000355837) since 14 November 2007.

I wish to draw to your attention that this afternoon my wife had computer 13 on floor 1 in Idea Store Whitechapel booked from 1.15pm to 2.15pm; she made the booking yesterday evening. As soon as she logged in, the computer re-started with another name, Suhel Miah, on the monitor. Not wanting to vacate the floor in the circumstances, she asked a security guard if he would be so kind as to call a member of staff to her table. Ten minutes later no member of staff had appeared but along comes Mr. Miah, and he wants my wife to vacate her chair. Two security guards then appear and rudely, aggressively and in a bullish manner attempt to move my wife out, and this despite her pointing out to both guards that she had been waiting for almost 15 minutes for a member of staff and that she had booked the computer for the hour. A member of staff then comes along and also insists that my wife moves out: there is another name on the monitor. This member of staff is followed by a supervisor: she hadn't booked a computer from 1.15pm to 2.15pm, my wife is told by the supervisor, and there is nothing wrong with the computer; she must vacate. My wife is let log in after 1.30pm.

I reconfirm that since my complaint of 21 January 2008 to Cllr. Jones, my wife and I not only have experienced repeated loss of computer bookings and internet access, but several other problems to boot. For example:

(i) 1 February 2008: the Principal Idea Store Manager, Mr. Sergio Dogliani, wrote to me advising that the restriction by Idea Store Whitechapel of both my wife and I to a 3-hour maximum free computer use per day as from 29 January stands, despite that for several previous months we were given "additional time" subject to computer availability and in accordance with the Council's then and current "Idea Stores PC Usage Policy";

(ii) 24 June 2008: at approximately 12.30pm, a member of staff threatened my wife with security if she did not give her computer up to another card holder, despite that thirty minutes earlier a member of staff had confirmed in writing that my wife had booked the computer from 11.30am to 2.30pm;

(iii) 3 August 2008: both of the computers my wife and I had booked the previous day contained an identical virus which spread to the two USB drives we were using. This rendered my wife's portable programs inoperable. It also corrupted some of my most valuable data: a Word document containing a categorised list of over 150 British signatories of a petition of mine to the United Nations on therapeutic cloning, and a related database containing the names, email addresses and contact information for over 3,000 scientists and academics from around the world;

(iv) 6 August 2008: at approximately 2.45pm, MIMEsweeper blocked access to my Google Mail account due to "Porn Detected". At 3.10pm, following the restoration of my access to the account, I was informed by the store's technician, and without explanation, that "it may happen again for any length of time".

As I explained in my original complaint to you of 4 August 2008 following (iii) above, since 22 October 2007 my wife and I have been using computer time in Idea Store Whitechapel to contact scientists and academics to invite them to sign my petition to the United Nations on somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), sometimes referred to as "therapeutic cloning". This petition to date has been signed by 591 scientists and academics, who include recognised authorities from the world's leading universities and research institutes, as well as 24 Nobel Laureates.

I once again acknowledge receipt of an email of 7 August 2008 from your Personal Assistant, Ms. Rachel Bielby, stating: "Cllr. Rahman is now on leave until the end of August. I have asked the office of the Director of Communities, Localities and Culture's office to deal with your correspondence." I reconfirm that on 9 January I received an email from Senior Management Support Officer, Ms. Sharon Ball, questioning only whether any of the reconfirmed information above is "actionable" by Tower Hamlets Council.

Please would you acknowledge receipt.

Yours sincerely
Declan Heavey