LABOUR IN REVOLT OVER LIBRARIES PLANS – Borough-wide petition has almost 10,000 signatures
NINE LABOUR councilors could vote against the controversial Lambeth libraries plans at a full council meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday).
Bombshell news that three Labour party wards have voted against proposals which would, among other issues, see three libraries turned into gyms was given last night (Monday) to a packed Friends of Carnegie library meeting by Unison rep Tim O’Dell.
News From Crystal Palace understands that the three wards (which have three councillors each) are Tulse Hill, Brixton Hill and Streatham Hill – and that the nine councillors in those wards would have to follow their ward’s wishes.
Mr O’Dell told the meeting in the Carnegie library, Herne Hill Road: “That means they have massive opposition within their own ranks.”
The agenda for tomorrow night’s meeting has no cabinet report on libraries – but a Lambeth council spokeswoman told News From Crystal Palace that the matter WILL be discussed when the council receives a deputation on the issue.
As previously reported Lambeth council, following their so-called ‘consultation’ over Culture 2020 proposals, want to turn the Carnegie, Minet and Tate South Lambeth libraries into gyms. The proposals have provoked widespread opposition.
A librarian but speaking in his capacity as a Unison rep, Mr O’Dell said library staff in Lambeth to a person think the proposals are ‘absolute lunacy.’
“These proposals are being drawn up by a very small and incredibly isolated group of councilors and officers within this council.
“The idea that Lambeth can’t afford libraries is an absolute falsehood.
“We already have queues of people waiting to sit down in Brixton library when it’s exam time. “Our kids won’t have anywhere to study or read. “Older people won’t have anywhere to go.”
He questioned Lambeth’s claim that people in their 20’s to 30’s don’t use libraries. “Of course, when you’re young, you don’t.
A borough-wide petition – which begins “Threatening half the borough’s libraries with closure is a short-sighted and irresponsible plan, public libraries are an essential part of a functioning literate nation” – had already attracted almost 10,000 signatures. “This isn’t going to go away” added Mr O’Dell.
Another Unison rep told the meeting of plans to close a day centre where it was suggested those using the day centre could use libraries instead. (Laughter).
Laura Swaffield of Friends of Lambeth Libraries told the meeting: “There’s a united campaign, work together with Unison. “We’ve got a massive list of things we want to do. “What we’re missing is a list of people who can help out.
“We’ve all got more skills than the idiots who put these plans together.”
Catriona Mace from the Upper Norwood library campaign said she had attended the previous week’s meeting of Lambeth council’s overview and scrutiny committee.
“There was no answer to the three objections that:
the Culture 2020 consultation was ignored and flawed;
that plans from the staff were completely ignored while those of Greenwich Leisure Limited were taken forward;
that there was no environmental impact assessment (EIA) on closing libraries in our most vulnerable communities.
“We only lost the vote by one. “We can keep turning the tide by keeping on campaigning.
“These proposals are so bad it’s not hard to oppose or critique them.”
Other points from the meeting included a call to lobby councilors via Twitter or Facebook posts if they had them – although the meeting heard claims that Cllr Jane Edbrooke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods whose remit includes libraries, was blocking posts from some Lambeth residents.