LABOUR COUNCILLORS “FRIGHTENED ” INTO SUPPORTING CONTROVERSIAL LIBRARIES PLANS
SENSATIONAL CLAIMS that Labour councillors have been frightened into voting in favour of the highly controversial libraries plans for Lambeth were made last night (Tuesday).
Laura Swaffield, who chairs Friends of Lambeth Libraries, said Lambeth Labour councillors told of being “frightened to speak up” as she addressed around 100 people who had arrived in Brixton to support Labour Cllr Rachel Heywood as she faced an ‘investigative meeting’ with the Labour party whip.
While Cllr Heywood was inside Olive Morris house, outside Laura Swaffield said: “We are very proud of Rachel but we are wondering about all those councillors who said to us secretly: ‘We hate the libraries plans but I’m frightened to speak up’.
“What kind of Labour council have we got?.
Highlighting new figures which showed the Carnegie library at Herne Hill had the biggest user rise in the borough in the financial year ended March 31st 2016 – the day Lambeth shut the library – Laura said:
“You have to ask yourself ‘What are these idiots doing?’. “Why are they wasting millions and millions of pounds smashing up a library service we need?
“How can they be so bloody stupid?”
Carnegie occupier Michaela Loebner said they had received support from Cllr Heywood.
“In spite of massive bullying she stayed supporting us and spoke on our platform at the end of our march after we left the Carnegie.
“Lambeth council says it’s making tough decisions – but it is making decisions which impact on our communities far too easily.”
Lambeth’s Green party Cllr Scott Ainslie said the council were having consultations on issues where decisions had been made “ages before”.
He told the gathering: “It’s disingenuous. “Sometimes I’m ashamed to sit in the same council chamber.”We cannot lose our libraries. “We cannot lose our homes”
Rachel Heywood’s summons to last night’s meeting attracted libraries campaigners and housing campaigners – proof that both campaigns have become borough-wide issues, if proof were needed.
Cressingham Gardens resident Gerlande Gniewosz told those outside: “What this council do is atrocious. “This is a remarkable community where a councillor is standing up for her constituents.
“This council will lie to your face. “I hope today’s protest makes every councillor stand up for right or wrong.”
Westbury estate tenants and residents association chairman Shemi Leira said they had received letters two weeks ago saying they should sell their homes and make their own arrangements.
“The minimum of key guarantees have not been finalised. “They are saying ‘Get off the land’ and giving us as little as possible.”
“To disenfranchise people without a plan is a violation of our human dignity. “This is happening across six Lambeth estates including Fenwick. “Something has gone bloody wrong.”
Westbury estate near Wandsworth Road SW8 has 242 homes. Some of the people had lived there for between 20 and 50 years, he added.
FOLL’s Laura Swaffield told News From Crystal Palace this afternoon (Wednesday): “We have heard from a number of Labour councillors who are appalled and ashamed at what this council is doing. “If they would ‘do a Rachel’ they’d get solid support, and the chance of retaining their seats in 2018.
*along with several people carrying Momentum boards featuring images of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and (almost inevitably) a Socialist Worker paper seller.