SAVE LAMBETH’s 10 LIBRARIES – PUBLIC MEETING THURSDAY FEBRUARY 4th “Massive staff redundancies of 25 per cent if council plans go ahead” say campaigners
Friends of Lambeth Libraries have issued the following statement in advance of a public meeting in Brixton tomorrow night (Thursday) at 7 pm at Brixton library, Windrush Square.
Friends of Lambeth Libraries (FOLL) and UNISON are seeking new ideas and offers of help – in a quest to save the council from its own disastrous libraries-into-gyms Culture2020 plan.
WE HAVE JUST TWO MONTHS TO SAVE OUR LIBRARIES.
The council has a simple choice between two plans:
1. The plan devised by libraries chief Susanna Barnes.
This saves MORE money, saves library buildings and jobs, keeps all 10 libraries delivering the full service people want, and has the full support of residents.
2. The current Culture2020 plan.
This saves LESS money, wastes millions more on the widely ridiculed gyms idea, will reduce 5 libraries to almost nothing on 1 April, and is a PR disaster for the council.
Even on the crudest financial basis, the Culture2020 plan is a loser. It would cost the council far more money – while it ruins a service that its most vulnerable citizens depend on.
OUR PLEA TO LAMBETH COUNCIL – STOP SHOOTING YOURSELF IN THE FOOT!
But FOLL still can’t be confident that the right decision will be made.
It took a long battle even to reveal the existence of Susanna Barnes’ much better plan – and the threat of judicial review to force Lambeth to look at it.
Councillors – notably libraries supremo Jane Edbrooke – still show little enthusiasm for the better plan.
Lambeth residents have to somehow persuade the council to show some common sense – and please stop shooting itself in the foot.
FOLL and UNISON have worked round the clock to publicise the plain facts, make reasoned arguments and demonstrate the bitter opposition of thousands of people all over the borough.
Lambeth councillors have no answers.
But will they see sense?
FIND OUT THE FACTS. HELP US GET THE MESSAGE OUT.
A separate leaflet issued by FOLL says:
Published at last is the plan that can end all the protests, end the threat of strikes, remove the threat of judicial review and above all preserve a popular, highperforming library service that is bringing national kudos to Lambeth.
IT IS WRITTEN BY SUSANNA BARNES, HEAD OF LIBRARIES, who in two short years (with full support of staff and residents) has made this under-funded service: • the TOP performer nationally for increases in usage • nationally recognised for a whole list of successful new services.
COMPARED TO THE CURRENT HIGHLY UNPOPULAR CULTURE2020 GLL LIBRARIES-INTO-GYMS PLAN: • It makes EXACTLY THE SAME SAVINGS short-term • In the midterm it makes MORE SAVINGS • It also offers MORE WAYS TO GENERATE future income. ALSO: It can be put into action quickly, while the GLL plan is still barely worked out, and is struggling to get even basic provisions set up.
IT AVOIDS THE MANY DRAWBACKS OF THE GLL PLAN, WHICH INCLUDE: • Massive staff redundancies (25%) • Five out of 10 libraries reduced to a small ‘lounge’ with few books or PCs • The same five libraries to have NO staff at all to help people • Consequent serious harm to vulnerable groups including: small children, families, schoolkids and students, old people, disabled people, women, BME communities, people on low incomes, benefits claimants, and more. • Extra pressure on council services from those deprived of help and advice. • Heavy expenditure on unwanted gyms (£3m capital, £1m+ revenue) • Long closures while the gyms are installed • Elaborate mishmash of up to five different trusts to run just 10 buildings including handing valuable buildings to GLL at a peppercorn rent, already recognised as a financial risk to the council. • Very, very unpopular, as shown in demonstrations by hundreds of people, and over 10,000 signatures on petitions.
IT SAVES A HUGELY USEFUL SERVICE: • It keeps all 10 badly needed libraries, offering a full service, fully staffed. • It provides longer opening hours at all of them. • It maintains Lambeth’s nationally famous, ground-breaking access service for people with sight problems or dyslexia. This won’t survive in the GLL plan. • It introduces a much needed schools library service. • It develops a range of new, innovative specialist services, including a computer design ‘fab lab’, extra support for unemployed people, business support, extrahealthy living advice/activities and more. • It focuses clearly on Lambeth residents’ real needs and the council’s priorities, including: mental health, unemployment, poor IT skills and access, poverty, poor housing, social cohesion.