12 February 2017
Lambeth Green Party councillor Scott Ainslie stood alongside campaigners fighting to save Carnegie and Minet libraries, who urged Lambeth planners on Tuesday to refuse permission to GLL, the council’s leisure centre provider to transform the library into a pay-to-use gym.
They say Lambeth council is planning to spend £4million on turning the two libraries they closed in April last year – Carnegie and Minet – “into unwanted and un-needed gyms” and has recommended that planning permission for Carnegie library is granted.
Opposition from residents and library users continues with more than 300 objectionssubmitted to the plans, say campaigners.
A statement from Lambeth Libraries Campaign said: “This is a scandalously
expensive project with leisure contractor GLL which will give the go ahead to destroy our much-loved and used public library and it’s garden and trees. Instead of a free public service we will get a pay-to-use gym and an unstaffed book collection.
“There is huge opposition from library users and the community, which included our 10-day occupation when the council closed Carnegie and Minet libraries, but the council isn’t listening.
“This is despite the fact that this destructive plan will actually entail spending millions of pounds and that there is an alternative.
“Carnegie Library users and locals have submitted objections to the application, now we need to make our voices heard again. We have to protect our libraries.”
Councillor Scott Ainslie said: “I have offered to speak in support of the objectors because no Herne Hill councillor is prepared to do so – they all toe the official Labour cabinet line. However, Democratic Services have not yet confirmed that I will be allowed to speak. If I cannot speak, this would leave the objectors without councillor representation.
“This proposal is for a facility that nobody needs or wants. Let’s be clear that the people of Lambeth do not want a gym – they want their library back. These plans would alter the Carnegie Library building forever, changing it into a gym with a small self-service library space and devastating the wildlife garden.
“The gym proposal will cost Lambeth council about £4million which could be much better spent on reopening Carnegie Library and maintaining a decent library service across the borough."