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.”