Consultative ballot launched in support of the ongoing libraries dispute

Lambeth UNISON has launched a consultative ballot across the council work force today.

The ballot asks council members whether they are willing to take action in support of the ongoing libraries dispute.

Dan Jeffrey, vice chair of Lambeth UNISON said; “We have launched a ballot today across the Council workforce to take industrial action in support of our colleagues who are fighting to save the library service. Other than for a national issue, this is the first time the branch has taken a Council wide ballot for industrial action in many years. This shows how passionately our branch feels about saving the library service which is such a crucial resource to the local community. It is a service that is not only a vital educational resource for many people, but also a facility and space that provides a multitude of services for the community. The libraries provide a life line for many people whether this be getting assistance in filling in housing benefit forms, being a refuge for those who have suffered domestic violence, providing translation services, or providing a space and play groups where parents can bring their children to. I have never seen such a passionate response from the workforce and local community in 20 years of trade union activism. The councillors need to listen to their community and change course.”

Posters at OMH









UNISON activists have put up posters in the major council buildings, and leafleted every desk. There will be more stalls and floorwalking later this week to get the vote out. If you are a member of UNISON in the council and have not got your email then please contact us and we will send you a link.

Press release: Lambeth Council rejects alternative proposal on libraries – we step up the fight

Campaigners pledge to step up the fight as Lambeth Council to push ahead with library closures

On the eve of a major demonstration against library closures, Lambeth Council have rejected a proposal to keep all ten of the libraries open.

Ruth Cashman, library worker and UNISON Branch Secretary commented

“The proposal by head of the library service Susanna Barnes has been rejected because it “would not provide the necessary savings by 1st April 2016”, something that their own proposals also fail to do.

UNISON believes the council has acted hypocritically. They had the alternative proposals for 12 months and sat on them. The Council only started to consider the proposals seriously earlier this year, when forced by campaigning; including community demonstrations, strike action and near mutiny in the local Labour Parties.

The Council has now rejected the alternative claiming it cannot be implemented in time but neither the council or GLL have produced details on their plans for Carnegie or Minet to become ‘healthy living centres’ or a timeline for the implementation. The building could lay padlocked and empty waiting for the gym equipment to arrive.

With days to go, the council has yet to release any details of the contract with GLL: rent, floor plans, staffing or health and safety information.

Scandalously, council managers informed UNISON that they couldn’t tell us whether under-18s would be allowed in the new bookish gyms, as they were unclear how children would be safeguarded.

The Council has made a partial U-turn following a mass community campaign, announcing today that Tate South Lambeth will not be handed to GLL and instead will run a reduced service pending a further decision on its future.

Friends of Tate South Lambeth released the following statement:

“Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library are relieved that Lambeth has responded to the strong backing of the local  community for the maintenance of our library – and the strong opposition to its replacement by a gym with minimal library service. We were lucky  that the consultation on the future of TSL and Durning libraries gave the community an opportunity to express its opinion. Other Lambeth libraries under threat  have not been given this chance. Mindful that our library has been given only a temporary reprieve, we remain in solidarity with the campaign to save all Lambeth libraries.”

Don’t Steal Our Libraries – protest on 5 March

On the 1st April Lambeth Council plans to padlock the doors of five of our libraries. We love Lambeth libraries – which in the last 12 months have become one of the most improved libraries in the country. This is testimony to the hard work of the library staff, many working knowing that the council’s axe is hanging over their jobs and workplaces.

There is an alternative proposal in front of the council that will save jobs and keep all the libraries open. The council aren’t listening to what the people of Lambeth want.

This protest is a really important as we open up a month of action against their plans. Please come along to Windrush square in Brixton on 5 March at 10.30am – bring home made banners, whistles, your favourite books and friends.  The Facebook event is online here.dont steal our libraries

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
  • 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

Baroness Whitaker praises Lambeth libraries

baroness Whitaker

Baroness Whitaker on the attacks to Lambeth’s Libraries;
“I have just moved into the Waterloo area and am so impressed by the constant use of my new excellent local library, with its IT facilities, clearly very much needed, its good collection of local books and its helpful staff. In my view it would be very damaging to the neighbourhood of Lower Marsh, the local vibrant shopping street, for it to be deprived of its library. Its site is easily accessible and it adds a lot to the street. All I hear from local people is how they value it as part of the Lower Marsh Community. I do urge Lambeth Council to keep it where it is.”