LAMBETH’S CABINET TOLD TO LOOK AT ‘ALTERNATIVE PLANS’ FOR LIBRARIES BY COUNCILLORS – “Council can do itself a favour and re-think” say Friends of Lambeth Libraries
COUNCILLORS in Lambeth have decided by just one vote NOT to send the highly controversial plans for the borough’s libraries back to its cabinet for reconsideration.
But they did called for the cabinet to look at alternative plans with ‘much more reflection about what the community wants’.
And they gave the cabinet a list of awkward questions they want answered – and which Friends of Lambeth Libraries say cover most of the things which concern them.
At a packed and angry meeting attended by around 250 people at Lilian Bayliss school, Kennington, members of Lambeth’s overview and scrutiny committee:
- asked what mitigation is planned for the many people disadvantaged by unstaffed
- called for more development work needed on the Susanna Barnes’s proposal (see below)
- asked for a guarantee that ICT access points WITH SUPPORT will be the same or more
- called for the cabinet to look at alternative plans with ‘much more reflection about what the
- said the cabinet needed to be ‘a bit more robust ‘in dealings with Greenwich Leisure which wants to turn three libraries into gyms. (“‘I’m uncomfortable that they seem to be taking the lead in this” said one committee member.)“Daft Plans”
In a statement following the meeting Friends of Lambeth Libraries said: “Surely we can work with this and easily show how awful AND FINANCIALLY UNNECESSARY these daft plans are. “It is glaringly obvious to anyone prepared to listen.
“The council can do itself a favour and re-think. “Or it can face furious opposition from residents all over the borough, who are marching in their hundreds and signing petitions in their
FOLL admitted: “We were expecting the usual rubber stamp. “Lambeth councillors are notoriously bullied into always supporting the party line no matter what. “But we got something just a little better….
“Cllrs Scott Ainslie (Green) and Tim Briggs (Conservative) patiently pointed out that money is clearly identifiable to keep the library service going, while making all the cuts Lambeth demands.
“Libraries portfolio holder Jane Edbrooke and Lambeth officer John Kerridge addressed none of these points, falling back on their now totally discredited excuse that they have no choice because of government cuts. “Demonstrably untrue.
“It was a pleasure to hear- often – reference to existence of a viable alternative plan by brilliant head of libraries Susanna Barnes, who has already transformed a famously under-funded service into a London leader, with a host of extra services and activities, booming demand and national fame for its unique, ground-breaking facilities for people with sight problems, enabling them to read independently.
“Lambeth officers have sat on this plan and done nothing with it – while rushing through a ‘plan’ for leisure company GLL to spend over £1m revenue and £3m capital on the disastrous gyms – for which there is no business case, no market research – not even a basic feasibilty
Green party Cllr Scott Ainslie – one of only four opposition councillors in Lambeth – said Labour Cllrs Jacqui Dyer (Vassall); Matt Parr (Colharbour); and Amelie Treppass (Streatham Wells) along with Louise Nathanson (Con, Clapham Common) “made the right call.”
He said committee chairman Cllr Ed Davie (Lab Thornton) had made a great point at the beginning: ‘Surely you should have consulted on the offer and clearly you did not’ –
“But then he must have got amnesia again (like his ill-advised tweet*) as he voted merely to send the decision back with certain recommendations for cabinet and chickened out of disobeying Lambeth council leader Cllr Lib Peck and the whip” added Cllr Ainslie (St Leonard’s).
“People signing petitions and attending protests are a broad spectrum of people – young and old, black and white, rich and poor, unions and Tories… so anything but a bunch of ‘Trots!’
“The careerists in Lambeth Labour obviously obeyed the whip and some of the pathetic justifications they gave for not sending the decision back to the cabinet were infantile. “And I hope the electorate do not forget that.”
DEFEND THE LAMBETH TEN’
THE NEXT Save Lambeth Libraries public meeting is on Monday 16 November at 6.30 for 7pm (to 8.30pm) in the Carnegie Library 188 Herne Hill Rd, London SE24 0AG**
Get on the battle bus.
Defend The 10.
That’s the message from Upper Norwood library campaigner Robbie Gibson who says: “The vote to send the proposals back to cabinet were only defeated by a single vote. “And the proposals were mauled and looked threadbare.
“The four party apparatchiks that did as they were told by chair Ed Davie (who dismissed library supporters as Trots on Twitter) displayed a horrible arrogance that has been castigated by MP Kate Hoey.
“This is Ed Davie who recognised that libraries are disproportionately used by younger people, older people, by black and ethnic minorities, disabled people etc and for crass party political reasons couldn’t find it in himself to refer the proposals back to cabinet for a re think.
“I was feeling pretty exhausted before the hearing expecting nothing but political grand standing and a rubber stamp. “But instead people diid make a difference and I felt invigorated after it.
“If you’ve wondered when the fight back from and for decent people would begin look to the solidarity of the Lambeth Libraries and Upper Norwood Library Campaigners from #Crystal Palace to #Waterloo. #United.
“As always thanks to those who attended from Crystal Palace. “This coming together of people to defend their communities is so positive.”
*Cllr Davie dismissed library supporters as Trots on Twitter
**From Crystal Palace: Number 3 bus to Herne Hill then 68 bus to Red Post Hill crossroads, then short walk back to Herne Hill Road (parts of which have very uneven pavements.)