Photo: Defend the Ten website: Rachel Heywood addresses supporters outside Olive Morris house
“I HAVEN’T CHANGED MY MIND”
That was the defiant message from Lambeth Labour Cllr Rachel Heywood as she left a meeting with party chief whip Paul Gadsby last night.
“This is for the record: I am overwhelmed and humbled by all your support” she told around 100 people who gathered to support Cllr Heywood – the only Lambeth Labour councillor to break ranks on controversial libraries plans – outside Olive Morris house, Brixton last night.
“I am really proud to be an elected councillor representing this extraordinary borough.
“My responsibility is to stand up for the people who elected me. “That’s why I’m here today and that’s why I’m in trouble too. “You deserve to be treated with respect, fairness, transparency and truth.
“You deserve to be listened to.”
After praising local community organisations and their organisers Cllr Heywood said libraries had made her “snap”.
“When there’s no money it’s not right to spend money delivering the wrong solutions to the wrong problems.
“Libraries have a huge personal significance for me. “My constituents in Coldharbour are missing their library. “They want to go to the Minet, they want to go to Carnegie.
“I was inspired by the brilliance of the people who occupied the Carnegie. “We’re seeing a consistent attack on the heritage of culture and community we have in Lambeth. “It’s at risk of disappearing.
“Libraries are places that nurture and sustain these invisible structures. “As these invisible structures are worn away – and libraries are a real emblem of that – we risk a real loss of humanity.
“And it’s not just about libraries and parks. “It’s about the humanity we need to see in social care. “My fear is we’re not seeing that at the moment.
“That’s what we’re fighting for. “It’s what we must be fierce about. “It’s what we must protect. “Once it goes we’ll never get it back.”
Cllr Heywood had been applauded as she arrived. “This is incredible. “I can’t believe you’re all here. “I’m profoundly moved by it.” She admitted: “I’m dreading going in there” and to cheers added: “I will not be silenced.”
Unison branch secretary John Rogers, who had accompanied Cllr Heywood to the meeting, said the chief whip had told her that any decision on any action would be taken by next Monday. The chief whip had the right to withdraw the party whip. Were that to happen Cllr Heywood would have the right to appeal to the Labour party.
“Rachel said in there she had acted in accordance with Labour values and principles. “I hope they see sense. “If you are asked to come and support Rachel Heywood again – you probably will.”