18 May 2016
The Green Party has called on the UK Government’s Head of Libraries to halt ‘radical’ plans to transform Lambeth’s libraries.
Simon Richardson, who also represents the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on the Leadership for Libraries taskforce, is visiting Lambeth today (Wednesday May 18th) to investigate complaints that the council is mishandling the changes it is making to the borough’s library service. (1)
The Public Libraries and Museums Act states that local authorities have a duty “to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.. encouraging both adults and children to make full use of the library service, and of providing advice as to its use”. (2) The intended changes to Lambeth’s library service will leave only six libraries serving a growing population of more than 300,000 people.
Two of Lambeth's libraries, Carnegie and Minet, have recently been closed and there are plans to close or reduce services in two others, Waterloo and Upper Norwood. The future of Tate South Lambeth and Durning remains uncertain.
Lambeth Council intends to install gyms in Carnegie and Minet libraries and is proposing to have 'neighbourhood libraries' alongside the gyms. These will have a greatly reduced stock and no professional library staff on site apart from occasional visits, meaning unaccompanied children will be unable to use the facilities.
Pete Elliott, The Green Party’s candidate for the forthcoming Gipsy Hill by-election and one of the Carnegie Library’s ‘Defend the Ten’ (3) occupiers said:
"The government must intervene to prevent the vandalism of these vital community assets. There was no mandate for the radical changes the ‘cooperative’ council is attempting to implement, and no-one ever voted for them. Lambeth Labour has ignored the advice of library experts and is, once again, arrogantly disregarding the wishes of the population it has a duty to serve.
That a Tory government responsible for swingeing, savage cuts to public services feels the need to launch an investigation shows how extreme Labour have become and how vital it is they be stopped.”
Contact Pete Elliott: 07901 504903
(2) Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964: