"LABOUR COUNCILLORS 'WHIPPED' SO HARD THEY DARE NOT SPEAK OUT" – Bullying allegations in Lambeth finally made public

“LABOUR COUNCILLORS ‘WHIPPED’ SO HARD THEY DARE NOT SPEAK OUT” – Bullying allegations in Lambeth finally made public

Labour councillors in Lambeth are being ‘whipped’ so hard they dare not speak out.

Cllr Rachel Heywood – kicked out of Lambeth Labour for defying the party’s line on libraries provision – made the revelation at an event on Saturday which coincided with the first anniversary of the occupation of the Carnegie library, Herne Hill – and its ‘temporary’ closure.

Her comments finally blow the lid off what has been an open secret among library users, campaigners and local journalists since last year – that Labour councillors in Lambeth are being bullied to vote the way they are told to, despite the massive majority Labour has on the council.

Cllr Heywood told more than 250 people: “The council is ridiculing democracy. “It pays no regard whatsoever to its electorate.

“The other 58 Labour councillors are whipped so hard they daren’t speak out. “I would be ashamed to be part of it. “This anti-closure campaign embodies the values that should characterise Labour.”

Other speakers at Saturday’s event at the Carnegie included authors Stella Duffy OBE,Toby Litt and Barbara Ellis and comedian Jeremy Hardy.

“But the loudest applause was for Rachel Heywood, the sole Labour councillor (out of Lambeth’s huge majority of 59) to speak out against the library closures” said campaigners Defend the Ten on their website.

Lambeth Labour chief whip Cllr Paul Gadsby, asked for a response to Cllr Heywood’s comments,  told News From Crystal Palace:

“Cllr Heywood was an experienced cabinet member when these plans were first made. “She never raised any criticism of them or used any opportunity to challenge or amend them. “The first time her colleagues were aware of her opposition was when it was announced at a rally. “In February of this year she voted for Lambeth Labour’s budget for the borough.

“It is disappointing that she has resorted to personal attacks on colleagues who have supported her in recent years, and who have worked hard to keep services open in the face of steep  government cuts to the borough’s budget.

“Despite these cuts, Lambeth is not permanently closing any of it libraries. “Six of our libraries, including our five town centre libraries, with the largest number of visitors are fully protected.

“Changes are being made to services at a number of smaller libraries but in each case, councillors are working  with residents to find solutions that keep a library service in each. “That will allow Lambeth to retain ten libraries in the borough – the same number as before.”

Among other comments at Saturday’s event were: 

Stella Duffy: “Libraries need librarians.  “Lambeth’s failure to listen is heart-breaking. “This library served some of the most deprived areas in the borough. “There’s no reason for yet another gym round here.”

Barbara Ellis: “When my family moved here, my parents were just about surviving. “We needed this library. “This beautiful, useful building has done so much for local people and for migrants. “They have nowhere else to go.”

Toby Litt: “The Carnegie occupation was the high point of last year in Lambeth. BOLD “The council’s destruction of the library service is an assault on the community. “The whole point of libraries is they open doors for society to do something that shows love for its people. “Like the NHS.”

Jeremy Hardy: “It’s not just that the council doesn’t understand what libraries do. “This is ideologically driven. “The Progress faction is driving Lambeth Labour to the right. “It closed primary schools because they were failing – failing to be luxury flats. “It’s the insane ideology of the private sector.”

Roger Lewis, DEPAC (Disabled People Against the Cuts): “Lambeth says it has no choice. “It is playing libraries against disabled people and adult social care. “Well, libraries ARE adult social care. “Disabled people will need them more than ever when Universal Credit forces everyone to use the internet.  “Where we see libraries, the council sees development opportunities.”

Laura Swaffield, Defend the 10 campaign: “It would have saved us a lot of trouble if the council had just said in the first place: ‘We haven’t a clue what we’re doing, but we don’t care because we’ve been trying to close this library and sell it off for 20 years.’ “The council ignored chance after chance to divert funding to the libraries. “It has starved them for decades.”

Jeff Doorn, Friends of Carnegie Library: “The council is the April Fool. “We’ve kept the spirit of the library alive all year and we’re here to stay.”

Michaela Loebner, Defend the10 campaign: “They hoped we would go away, but we’re still here. “We’re a thorn in the council’s side and we won’t stop. “We are the council’s conscience. “They haven’t got one. “The fight goes on.”

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