“CULTURE 2020 A FINANCIAL DISASTER” – Defend the Ten

From Defend the Ten: Here’s a sad story in two simple columns – the disastrous waste of money incurred by the “Culture2020′” plan for libraries.

This column shows the annual cost of running 10 well-used libraries in 2014-15.

Then came Culture2020…most of the 2014-15 expenditure has carried on. But Culture2020 has added EXTRA costs.

For instance, although Minet and Carnegie libraries closed for long periods, they still paid all their buildings costs such as rates, insurance & utlities PLUS a huge added bill for security guards.

THE DAMAGE

This column of figures provides a partial estimate of the EXTRA costs brought by Culture2020.

This confused “money-saving” strategy included down-grading, reducing and de-staffing four libraries – while PAYING to set up local trusts to run some buildings, and PAYING to construct other facilities in library spaces.

For instance: West Norwood Library will house a cinema. Nice. But Lambeth has PAID Picturehouse, a very profitable company,£3.4 million for the conversion (the sum agreed by Lambeth council’s cabinet was £1. 25 million – bad enough).

For instance: Carnegie library will house an unwanted Greenwich Leisure gym. Lambeth has (so far) PAID over £3 million to install it.

THE TOTAL LOSS IS ABOUT £7.5 MILLION.

THE WASTE GOES ON

The waste will continue far into the future.

Both Picturehouse and Greenwich Leisure will use these buildings RENT-FREE for five years. And West Norwood Library will now PAY service charges to Picturehouse (in a building owned by the council).

The trust at Upper Norwood Library “Hub” has been generously funded – by more than it cost to run the library – in order to become self-funding in 2018. It has failed. Lambeth will continue to PAY it for at least three more years.

THE REAL COST

This, of course, is paid by Lambeth residents. They have lost four full-service libraries, with all they offered to the many people who need help, advice, IT support and staff-run activities. To see the difference, please read our report

Their library service has been starved – while millions have been wasted.

And they know the library service offered a plan – supported by community and staff – that would have kept all 10 libraries and SAVED £800,000 a year.

ARE WE WRONG?

Our list of wasted money has been compiled from numerous sources and Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.

It is certainly incomplete.

But it certainly shows that Culture2020 has been a financial disaster.

If anyone within Lambeth council can prove otherwise – please come forward.

IT’S TIME FOR A NEW APPROACH – A PLAN FOR LIBRARIES THAT MAKES SENSE AND SAVES MONEY!

Editor’s note: Both Lambeth council and Upper Norwood library trust were asked for a response to the above. Lambeth council’s press office initially referred us to comments made by Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth’s cabinet member for culture at the latest full meeting of Lambeth council. News From Crystal Palace did ask the council’s press office to comment further. (No reply received).

No response has been received from Upper Norwood library trust.

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