LAMBETH HAS LOADSAMONEY TO SPEND ON SECURITY FIRMS – BUT NOT ON LIBRARIES: “Council prepared to spend any amount of money trying to make this turkey fly”
Lambeth council spent TWICE the amount on employing security guards in the Carnegie and Minet libraries than they would have done on keeping them open as libraries.
The latest scandal to hit Lambeth comes in a report in The Guardian and follows a Freedom of Information request made by the national newspaper.
The astonishing revelation completely blows out of the water Lambeth’s repeated assertions that turning both libraries into gyms was the only way to keep both libraries open because of Tory government cuts.
And News From Crystal Palace understands that Greenwich Leisure – which wants to run the gyms in the Carnegie, Minet and one other library despite massive public opposition – still has not signed any contract to do so – almost two months after the Carngeie was closed.
The Guardian report by Peter Walker states: “The freedom of information response shows that from 31 March, when the libraries closed, until 15 April, when the request was made, Lambeth spent £35,392.68 on guards to secure both sites, a fraction over £2,212 a day.
“In contrast, the council’s 2014-15 budget gives a combined running cost for both of £874 a day. “This excludes spending on books and computer services, but those are paid for centrally for all of Lambeth’s 10 libraries, and the council has said it has no plans to cut them.
“Of the security costs, just under £25,000 was spent at the Carnegie, a figure made bigger by the occupation by several dozen local residents, which lasted from 31 March to 9 April.
“But even when this was over, the average daily security cost at the library was £1,382, nearly three times the daily running costs.”
Laura Swaffield, who chairs Friends of Lambeth Libraries, says: ““It has been apparent from the very start that wrecking the library service would cost more than preserving it.
“Now all the flaws in their plan are showing up, the council are panicking. “It seems prepared to spend any amount of money trying to make this turkey fly.”
The Friends sent a letter to all Lambeth councillors some time before last week’s abandoned council meeting. The letter (see separate story) says it is now clear that the current libraries policy will not save a penny.
Asked for a comment a Lambeth council council spokesman repeated the now familiar litany:
“We are working across the board to achieve the huge savings required in response to a 56 per cent Government cut to our core budget. “To balance the books, between 2010 and 2018 we’ll have had to make savings of more than £238 million, and in the last financial year Lambeth council cut 500 jobs.
“That programme includes saving £800,000 from our annual libraries budget this year. “Fortunately we have found a variety of ways of keeping all our libraries open, including handing the running of one branch to a community trust and potentially adding a gym to two others which will re-open, for longer hours, as soon as possible.
“We acknowledge changes to library services have raised concerns, including a costly library occupation, but the council is doing what it can to maintain services, protect those most in need and make the required cuts.”
In response News From Crystal Palace has asked Lambeth council:
Where is the extra money to pay for the security guards coming from?
When was this extra expenditure authorised and who by?
If News From Crystal Palace gets a proper reply to the questions we will keep you informed.
NOTE: From the Friends of Carnegie library bulletin May 2016, published BEFORE The Guardian revelations:
“….Additionally they (Lambeth) are currently paying tens of thousands for security guards at both the Carnegie and Minet libraries, which is probably costing more than keeping them open.”