Policy – save our Libraries


This branch notes that:

  1. Two years ago the public accounts committee cautioned that local authorities would soon struggle to deliver statutory services or even stay afloat at all, it was a prescient warning. In the last Public spending round, the Tory government pushed through further cuts in the public sector of £6.1 billion. The overall budget of many authorities has already fallen by as much as a third and Local government grants in England are set to be cut by 56% in the next five years. Lambeth Council have announced that they want to make 1,000 staff redundant over the next two years. We now have to fight to defend the very existence of local government.
  2. In April 2015 the Council circulated a public consultation document (Culture 2020) which recommended cuts across Libraries and Parks. On Monday 12th October, contrary to the desires expressed in the consultation to keep libraries open, Lambeth Cabinet passed a report which will:
  • Hand over three of Lambeth’s Libraries to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) to turn into gyms. These are big public assets which are being given away to GLL on 25 year ‘peppercorn’ rents.
  • Sell off Waterloo Library and hand Upper Norwood Library to a trust to run the building with no staff
  • Cut another 25% of the staff.
  1. Unison and the Save Lambeth Libraries campaign have organised supporters to oppose the Council’s plans and have lobbied and demonstrated at levels unseen in recent years.
  2. The Friends of Lambeth Libraries have taken legal action to take the Council to court under Judicial Review on the basis of their failure to consult properly and their failure to provide their statutory obligations under the Public Library Act 1964.
  3. UNISON members in Libraries have taken one day unofficial strike action to defend their service and have balloted to take official industrial action from the New Year.


We believe that:

  1. The ideology of ‘Austerity’, which means the transfer of wealth from those in need to those with greed, is not inevitable but a political choice of the current Tory government. Residents in Lambeth have rejected the idea that the local Labour Council should pass the Tory cuts onto the people of Lambeth.
  2. We need to build the fight by communities and union members against the Council’s austerity cuts.
  3. Closing half the borough’s libraries is a short-sighted and irresponsible plan; public libraries are an essential part of a functioning literate nation.

We resolve to:

  • Support members in Libraries and Archives in any action they decide to take, including industrial action, to fight back against the Councils cuts/closure plans
  • Support legal action by the Friends of Lambeth Libraries over the Councils failure to consult appropriately and no longer provide its statutory duty to Lambeth citizens.
  • Encourage members to contact their local Councillor and local MPs
  • Encourage members to sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/london-borough-of-lambeth-save-lambeth-libraries.
  • Raise within the union the call for London-wide and nation-wide action, including demonstrations, publicity and industrial action, to stop the massacre of national Library services currently underway.

Proposed: Tim O’Dell Seconded: Ruth Cashman

This motion was unanimously agreed by an aggregate vote of 110 votes for

Policy against local cuts

This branch notes

a) That the Autumn Statement/Four-yearly Comprehensive Spending Review announced more austerity: £20 billion cuts, plus another £22 billion cuts in the near-bankrupt NHS; we are only halfway through the Tories’ austerity.

b) That the Ministry of Defence budget, however, will rise from £34 billion to £40 billion as there is always money for war

c) that the central government expenditure on local councils will be slashed by 56%; while this could be offset by changes to revenue, poorer boroughs, like Lambeth, would stand to gain less by bumping up rates, which in any case would hit those in most need the hardest

d) That Jeremy Corbyn won election as Labour Party leader with a 59.5% majority on an anti-austerity ticket, with Unison’s backing, opening up the possibility of a labour movement wide resistance to cuts.

This branch believes

a) That austerity is designed to redistribute wealth from the working class to the wealthiest in society

b) That Lambeth Labour Party can and should resist the cuts by passing a budget based on people’s needs and calling on other Labour-run councils and the working people of Lambeth to rally behind them with demos, direct action and strikes

This branch resolves

a) To support Momentum, the movement set up to see Jeremy Corbyn’s policies carried through into action, by sending delegates to its meetings, supporting its actions, donating money to its projects as appropriate

b) To call on Lambeth Labour Party not to make any cuts, using the Labour Link and our delegates to General Councils, etc.

c) To call on the Trades Council to organize a united front of unions against the cuts, centred on raising awareness, striking against the cuts and solidarity action.

d) To organize an indicative ballot of members as soon as possible with a view to moving to a formal ballot for escalating strike action against the cuts if the Labour Council does make cuts this year.

Proposed – Jeremy Dewar Seconded – Ruth Cashman

This motion was agreed by an aggregate vote of 91 votes for, 0 votes against and 1 abstention.