Council leader Lib Peck has issued two statements responding to open letters to her.
I’m sorry – I’ll read that again.

Council leader Lib Peck has issued two statements responding to open letters to her.

Regular readers may have had to look at that twice. Lambeth aren’t in the habit of responding to questions and statements they don’t want to answer.

The first came from council opposition leader Cllr Tim Briggs who issued a statement saying that the actual amount Government had cut since 2010 was 20.4 per cent and not the 56 pc  that Cllr Peck continually repeats like a scratched Monty Python record.

Cllr Peck rebutted Cllr Briggs figures, insisting the figure of more than 56pc was accurate.

News From Crystal Palace emailed Cllr Briggs just to check that both his and Cllr Peck’s statements relate to the same set of figures.

They don’t.

Cllr Briggs has told News From Crystal Palace: “I was presented the first set of figures by council finance officers, and I had the opportunity to go through the spreadsheet and discuss the figures with them.

“I have not had been briefed on the second set of figures, and they were presented in response by Cllr Peck and her expensive communications team.

“If these figures provided by the Labour team were significant in any way, council finance officers would have provided them to me in the first instance and briefed me on them.”

Cllr Briggs figures came from council officers.

So where on earth do Cllr Peck’s come from?

(The other letter to which Cllr Peck responded was from Laura Swaffield who chairs both Friends of Lambeth Libraries and the national Library Campaign. News From Crystal Palace has asked Laura for a response to Cllr Peck’s comments which we’ll publish in due course.
But in her reply Cllr Peck includes the following comment: “Your argument of course also ignores the fact that in most of our libraries there will be a full complement of library staff.” Most of our libraries – full complement of library staff? That’s a new one……)

Lambeth’s planning committee have, as expected, given the go-ahead to plans submitted by Greenwich Leisure to build a gym in the basement of the Carnegie library at Herne Hill.

The community have made it abundantly clear they don’t want a gym at all, they want a library. And that’s final.

At the planning committee Cllr Scott Ainslie, who has, effectively, become one of two boroughwide councillors in Lambeth (the other is Cllr Tim Briggs, Conservative opposition leader, who has had council tenants turning to him for help)  tried to raise a couple of points from the public gallery but without success.

Cllr Scott Ainslie’s comments – if he had been allowed to make them – would have included the following:

“According to the plans, the ground floor would remain in D1 use though a significant amount of it would become a ‘flexible community space’ rather than library space, and it’s not at all clear what that ‘community space’ would be used for.

“When plans for the Carnegie library were exhibited last year, both the Council and GLL stated that ground floor space could be used by GLL for exercise classes. “Bodypumping is hardly compatible with a quiet library space where people read and study!

“The application conflicts with the Lambeth Local Plan in a number of ways. “The Planning Officer’s report (at 6.1.16) quotes Local Plan Annex 2 which says the council will use the Carnegie library project to ‘facilitate the redevelopment of historically significant buildings to deliver improved library service provision’.

“Yet immediately afterwards, the report admits (at 6.1.19) that the Carnegie will become a ‘neighbourhood library’, which will mean a reduction in library space and a change to self-service facilities instead of a staffed library.

“Hardly an improvement – more like devastation of the library service, with the council putting around £4 million into developing gyms instead.

“The Local Plan also commits the council to ensure that in a listed building, ‘development that restricts the ability of the building to continue in viable long-term use will be resisted’.

“But the gym enterprise could be a complete financial disaster for the council, compromising the survival of the building as a community asset.

“No effective business plan has been put forward by GLL to show that a gym is needed in this area or would be successful.

“In addition, activities that actually contributed to the Carnegie’s financial viability – such as hiring out the building for events – will become impossible due to the gym taking over the main ground floor space, plus the devastation of the attractive wildlife garden.

“Finally, this proposal conflicts with the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act. “The report claims no such conflict.

“But how does this square with the report to cabinet on October 12 2015 which gives a long list of protected people who will be disadvantaged by unstaffed libraries and says: ‘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’?

“Gyms in Lambeth are used by only 10 per cent of adults and obviously not at all by children. (Although councillors went out of their way to get baby-changing facilities included at Tuesday’s night’s meeting – Ed.)

“The council seems determined to replace libraries with gyms, but Lambeth Green party has consistently supported the alternative plan for a staff and community mutual trust which would keep all Lambeth’s libraries open and develop the service in innovative ways to help the most disadvantaged in the borough.

“The people of Lambeth have spoken for this alternative, many times and in their thousands – is the committee going to ignore them yet again?” asked Cllr Ainslie.

(Yes – Ed.)

An article in Private Eye magazine number 1436 (Inauguration issue cover) issued two weeks ago on victims of abuse at Shirley Oaks states that Lambeth council have admitted that “thousands of documents containing vital information were deliberately destroyed as recently as 2009.”

The article can be found on page 37 (right hand column headed Stephenson’s Rocket).

Lambeth were asked a fortnight ago if they had any comment on this or other aspects of the article. No reply so far……


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