CAMPAIGNER BLASTS LAMBETH LABOUR COUNCILLOR OVER CARNEGIE LIBRARY COMMENTS

CAMPAIGNER BLASTS LAMBETH LABOUR COUNCILLOR OVER CARNEGIE LIBRARY COMMENTS

Libraries campaigner Laura Swaffield has hit back at comments made by Herne Hill Labour Cllr Jim Dickson over the area’s Carnegie library.

In an article on the national Labour website headed ‘Energy and imagination of Herne Hill community can help secure Carnegie’s future for the next 100 years’ Cllr Dickson:

claims that for the very first time planning guarantees have been placed on the use of the ground floor as a library.

claims the running of the gym in the library basement by Greenwich Leisure will cover the cost of “hosting” the library and providing staff on the ground floor.

admits that “the council for its part needs to hugely improve communication and engagement with local people.”

But in a very angry response Laura Swaffield tells Cllr Dickson: “You can’t count on the ‘energy and imagination’ of local people to clean up the mess you have made. “You have treated them with nothing but contempt.”

Her response reads: Come off it, Jim! This is nothing to do with government cuts. You’ve been trying to close that library since 1999. And we all know why.

Lambeth cabinet papers from 2009 suggested the Carnegie Library “would be ideal for sale for a private residential flat conversion”.

This is not about a ‘”closed and decaying” facility being rescued by the council and community. Carnegie library was thriving, the busiest children’s library in the whole borough, and overall demand rising annually in double figures.

The council turned down a viable plan that would have kept all 10 of Lambeth’s libraries running- while making the huge cuts demanded. It was never given a chance.

Instead, the council’s daft plan has saved nothing at all – and commits you to waste further millions on installing a gym nobody wants.

It’s well known that closing Carnegie costs more than keeping it open.The building still pays rates, utilities, staffing etc – but now with a whacking great bill for security guards on top. Glossy Lambeth literature distributed in Herne Hill simply lied about that.

Similarly, it’s obvious nonsense to say the future “library” will offer “a similar number of books, DVDs, computers and plenty of study space”.

Really? It’s to be corralled into a fraction of its former space, with no professional staff to speak of and no business plan or financial details of any kind available (we’ve asked again and again).

The”planning guarantee” about library use of the ground floor is very carefully worded, and anyway we fully expect it to be quietly waived by the council officers to whom all such decisions have now been delegated.

Business space, community-run activities, performance space etc were all available before – plus a peaceful garden that you will now destroy. As for the “derelict” basement-you have had to expensively move out library service space AND spend £700,000 excavating it, to shoe-horn in the hated gym.

To sum up: no, you can’t count on the “energy and imagination” of local people to clean up the mess you have made. You have treated them with nothing but contempt.

  • Cllr Dickson’s article opens by saying: “Approval by Lambeth’s planning committee of plans for the future of Carnegie Library is a major step towards the reopening of the building by the end of this year.“In the face of huge government cuts to financial support for councils since 2010 (with Lambeth having made savings of £183m and now needing to find a further £55m in savings over the next 3 years), it won’t be possible to get the library open again unless an alternative way of
    funding the service, the building and the range of activities that take place in it can be found.

    “The plans now agreed by the council unlocks that funding by approving new uses alongside a high-quality library. “And for the very first time planning guarantees have been placed on the use of the ground floor as a library.”

    (The full text of Cllr Dickson’s article, posted February 16th,  can be found on the national Labour site: lambeth-labour.org.uk/Carnegie where people can leave comments about it……-Ed.)

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