Lambeth Council have decided to account for a £90m cut in their grant from central government by cutting over £4m from cultural services, including Libraries and Archives, Sport and Leisure, Parks and Open Spaces, Arts, Events, and The Black Cultural Archives.
Libraries are threatened with severe and destructive cuts and closures.
Minet and Waterloo are scheduled for closure this year. Sites sold off to the highest bidder. There has been some talk around the provision of services in their areas with ideas like bookshelves in pubs.
Carnegie, Durning, and Upper Norwood are to loose all funding, relying instead on the proceeds of an endowment fund set up with money raised from the sale of the two closed branches. Both The Friends of Lambeth Libraries and Unison cast serious doubt on the projected earnings of this fund supplied by the council. It will fall far short of a realistic amount to keep these three well used and much loved libraries. As well as losing funding these three branches will also cease to be managed directly by Lambeth Libraries, community groups, charities, and social enterprise taking up the slack. Who exactly remains unclear to say the least.
West Norwood has been a special case for a long time now. The shame of the prolonged abandonment of the library’s true home after the theft of the roof, serious water damage, and squatters. A building of architectural significance. Featured in cult movie A Clock Work Orange. Left to rot. But fear not, Cineworld’s ‘cosy friendly hipster community zero hours’ brand Picture House are stepping in to convert The Nettlefold Halls, the library’s theatre and function rooms, into a cinema. A wonderful thing for West Norwood. The Friends of West Norwood library posted a report suggesting that Picture House would take on management responsibilities for the library, for as long as it remains financially viable, on their blog.
This leaves Brixton, Clapham, Streatham, and Tate South Lambeth.
Brixton Library has been proposed as a possible home for Lambeth Archives, the borough’s record office and local history library. Quite how the entire archive collection, a vast collection, will be accommodated in the same space as the library without that library becoming significantly reduced in size and capacity has not been explained by the council. There has been a suggestion of a move for the library’s computer services to a room and some Digibuddies in the Recreation Centre basement.
Clapham will continue to run, with earlier closing to accommodate corporate hire for functions and events. Streatham will be in a similar position, with it’s meeting rooms and Tudor Hall.
With 40% of the budget cut there will inevitably be a large amount of staff redundancies. Our Librarians are essential to the running of what is after all a statutory service Lambeth’s citizenry pay for with their hard earned taxes. The service will suffer greatly with another brain-drain of skills, experience, and passion, so soon after the last round of cuts.
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We must stop this. We can stop this. We will Stop this.