13 July 2016
Green Councillor Scott Ainslie has made an urgent call on Lambeth Council to immediately reopen Carnegie and Minet Libraries.
It comes ahead of the full Council meeting tomorrow (Wednesday July 13th) where Cllr Ainslie will be joined by a deputation from Friends of Lambeth Libraries.
A FOI request from the Guardian paper showed (1) that Lambeth Council are spending three times more than the original running costs on security to keep the libraries shut.
Lambeth’s libraries - which last year had 1.3 million visits - provide a vital service, helping people to access information, benefits, government services as well as books, the Internet and activities for children. Libraries are essential for access to information and education.
At Upper Norwood Joint Library LBL is spending as much as it would have spent on a full library service, but offering a much-reduced version with volunteer staff who are not been properly trained or supervised. Responsibility is being dumped onto a trust run by local people, who will soon be expected to raise around £180,000 a year, year after year, to keep the building going.
At West Norwood, lack of basic security meant the library was stripped bit by bit of its roof, and consequently damaged by squatters and floods. LBL pleaded that it did not have the money to repair it but is now paying much more to a commercial company to sort out the building, with much space turned over to a cinema.
Defend the Ten has presented a clear alternative plan to run the libraries which has so far been rejected by the council. (2)
Laura Swaffield of FLL says:
“Friends of Lambeth Libraries supports no particular political party. But it's clear that Labour's near-monopoly on the council has made it arrogant, out of touch and intent on forcing through policies that are ill thought out in principle and disastrous in practice. Residents have been badly let down by councillors' reluctance to make criticisms or even ask questions.
“The result - not least in Gipsy Hill - is a once excellent library service in chaos. No savings have been made, tens of thousands have been wasted and millions are lined up to be thrown away in the near future.”
Councillor Scott Ainslie says:
“Lambeth Labour has everything to gain from listening to its residents - and much to lose. Gipsy Hill shows that. The last time the council tried to push through a drastic closure plan in 1999 - again refusing to listen to widespread protests - it was voted out of office in the next local elections. The party's post-mortem found that libraries were a major cause.”