LAMBETH UNDER FIRE – TWO: KIDS AT RISK IN LAMBETH LIBRARIES “You lead the only council in the entire UK to be so reckless of its children’s safety” – campaigner’s open letter to Lib Peck
Lambeth council leader Cllr Lib Peck has been accused of being reckless with children’s safety over its staffing proposals for the borough’s libraries.
In an open letter Laura Swaffield, who chairs both the Friends of Lambeth Libraries and the nationwide Library Campaign, says libraries in Lambeth will be open to all comers – adding ‘outright danger’ to the council’s own long list of impacts on unstaffed local libraries.
The letter reads as follows:
Last Saturday I tried to tell you something. You drowned me out by constantly repeating: “I’m not listening! I’m not listening!”
Let me try again.
A few councils are trying out the bizarre idea of “libraries” with no staff. In every case, entry is only via a library card and a PIN number, there is CCTV – and even so, CHILDREN UNDER 15 ARE COMPLETELY BANNED for their own safety.
Lambeth council is UNIQUE.
Its unstaffed “neighbourhood libraries” are to be open to all-comers, at all hours, with no identification and no CCTV – and children will be welcome, any time.
That’s right! Books, games and PCs to tempt the kids in… then any adult can approach them without hindrance – unidentified, unseen.
Ironically, our encounter was at an Equality Commission public meeting.
Your own cabinet equalities report (October 12th, 2015) clearly stated: “It is not possible to mitigate the impact of the unstaffed neighbourhood libraries on groups of vulnerable people who rely on staff in their local library for support.”
The very long list includes small children, families, schoolkids and young people.
To this deprivation, you are adding outright danger. You lead the only council in the entire UK to be so reckless of its children’s safety.
This is what you plan to provide at Carnegie library (formerly the busiest children’s library in the whole borough), and three other “neighbourhood libraries”.
Why won’t you listen – before it’s too late?
(Lambeth council and Cllr Peck have been asked for a reply to Laura Swaffield’s comments. If we get one, we’ll let you know – Ed.)