“CARNEGIE AND MINET LIBRARIES COULD RE-OPEN TOMORROW” SAY CAMPAIGNERS
They tell Lambeth:
- You’d get nothing but praise
- If your own plans are ‘financially sound’, please show them to us.
- Your savings are nil – and you’re now spending thousands more trying to work out the basics.
- Your answers tend to be ‘We don’t know yet.’
Lambeth council could re-open the Carnegie and Minet libraries tomorrow – and save a fortune by doing so, say Friends of Lambeth Libraries.
“You’d get nothing but praise for doing that” they have told Lambeth council.
In (yet another) hard-hitting letter to Lambeth council leader Cllr Lib Peck, Laura Swaffield who chairs FOLL says:
“You agree there are ‘cost implications’ for the months of delay in getting your act together at Waterloo and Upper Norwood joint library (UNJL) – so what are they, please? “It’s nice to know you have a ‘commitment to continuity of service’ at these sites. “So why not at Carnegie and Minet?
“The one figure you have produced – via an FoI (Freedom of Information) request from a journalist – is the whacking cost of security at these two closed libraries. “Both could re-open tomorrow, saving you a fortune. “You’d get nothing but praise for doing that.
“There is no sign – even now – of even a basic business plan, basic costings, basic research, basic plans for the four condemned libraries. “Your projected savings of just £369k per annum (not the required £800k) are reduced to £189k by allocating £180k to unknown ‘community groups’ to deliver literacy activities that the library staff currently do – extremely well.
“Two guards were in the Carnegie ready for its closure, before there was any thought of occupation. “They stayed – and had nothing to do. “No problems at all.”
In her letter Laura Swaffield says that, in the wake of the occupation of the Carnegie library, the council piled in an extra five or so security guards, 24/7. They also had nothing to do – except to throw out the businesses renting space in the building, whom the occupiers had been checking and letting in.
“Their contract was summarily broken, their businesses suffered (and LBL – London borough of Lambeth) lost yet more income).
“Multiple guards stayed in place at both closed libraries (Carnegie and Minet) for many days after the occupation ended (the building was left in immaculate condition). “Two are still there 24/7 at both buildings – with heating and lights full on 24/7 too. “All the stock is still inside (you have no idea what to do with it); the staff are still on the payroll. “What a waste.
“Meanwhile, there was always an alternative plan (by the head of libraries) to keep all 10 libraries open and save your full £800k requirement. “Your officers ignored it, hid it and spirited away the simple sources of funding listed in the (April 2015) culture2020 plan that would easily have funded it.
“The council was finally forced to look at the alternative by prolonged protests, its own overview and scrutiny committee and the threat of a judicial review. “We really don’t enjoy having to go through this kind of palaver, just to give common sense (and our willing co-operation) a chance.
“By then, the plan had to be re-written to take account of your officers’ sleight of hand. “That’s why it can no longer deliver the full £800,000 saving you could have had. “It’s still cheaper than your plan. “It was produced in one month flat (including the long Christmas holiday).
“It is far better worked out than the muddle you have taken well over a year (and much expensive council expertise) to produce. “It contains proper figures and coherent plans (see: http://defendthe10- lambeth.org.uk/2016/01/19/summary-of-alternative-plan-for-lambeth-libraries).
“And it still comes out cheaper than your plan-less gym idea – which will cost £3 million capital and £1 million revenue just for starters, plus all the other costs we’ve listed.”