Three Lewisham libraries saved?

Discussion in 'South East London General Discussion' started by Nick Barron, May 4, 2011.

?

Are you happy with the Council's plans?

  1. Yes, great result

    6 vote(s)
    54.5%
  2. No, the Council should own and run its own libraries

    2 vote(s)
    18.2%
  3. It's too early to say, but I'm nervous

    3 vote(s)
    27.3%
  1. Nick Barron

    Nick Barron Admin Staff Member

    As reported on Brockley Central, Council officers have recommended to the Mayor and Cabinet that Crofton Park, Sydenham and Grove Park libraries should be transferred to a social enterprise called Eco Computer Systems, who will continue to run them as libraries, making additional use of the buildings as IT training and recycling centres.

    I think it's the best possible outcome for these three libraries, but do you agree?
     
  2. Max

    Max Proper Local

    A leap of faith that deserves the best wishes.
     
  3. Max

    Max Proper Local

    I just changed my vote (and my mind) from "Yes, great result" to "it's early to say but I'm nervous". I'm actually in between the two, early to say but it sounds a decent thing and let's hope well.
    I wish the Council had kept all libraries but if they manage to keep them going anyway and support a worthy business then it's surely better than if they had closed.
     
  4. Max

    Max Proper Local

    I just changed my vote (and my mind) from "Yes, great result" to "it's early to say but I'm nervous". I'm actually in between the two, early to say but it sounds a decent thing and let's hope well.
    I wish the Council had kept all libraries but if they manage to keep them going anyway and support a worthy business then it's surely better than if they had closed.
     
  5. Alex Crane

    Alex Crane Local

    Did anyone else read the Standard tonight? Featured an article on saving Lewisham's libraries and in particular had a picture of Crofton Park library campaigners
     
  6. Nick Barron

    Nick Barron Admin Staff Member

    Yes, terrible article that completely misrepresented the facts, choosing instead to tell the story from the perspective of two rather intransigent protesters.
     
  7. Kate Gould

    Kate Gould Member

    I'm not so sure. I fear that the libraries won't be able to accommodate the current number and range of books, will be run by volunteers not trained individuals and will be constantly at risk of funding issues. Schools rely on libraries to supplement their books in class so this will be an issue particularly in Blackheath where the amount of books able to be held in the new Age Exchange building will be far far less than currently. And what about New Cross? Schools in this area will no longer have a library they can use that is accessible by walking to it. A closure of 5 libraries could indeed constitute a breach of the 1964 Museums and Public Libraries Act. We shall have to wait and see if the DCMS agrees. I wish the council had done the right thing and kept the libraries under its control. They are such an important resource for people and once they've gone they've gone forever.
     
  8. Nick Barron

    Nick Barron Admin Staff Member

    I think those are valid concerns, but that's not what the article said, it said that five libraries were due to close, which they are not.

    I agree that it is a risk that the libraries will not be properly maintained and I hope the Council is vigilant in this respect. But let us be honest, the libraries were already in a shabby condition, poorly stocked and under used. Yes, they might get even worse, but they might get better too. Better to try something new than to let the long, slow decline continue. The selection of books for grown ups in Crofton Park is already very limited, for example.

    As for New Cross, yes, let's hope they find a partner for it soon. However, the new Deptford library is a relatively short walk away and a massive new library is being built at Surrey Quays, only a short journey away, so people who want access to library facilities will have them relatively nearby.
     
  9. I think Officers have done a fantastic job in securing 4 community libraries. It's still early days; the libraries will need volunteers and support. With a brand new library at Deptford, and Lewisham Library busier than ever, I think we've managed to protect a good service reasonably well in the context of a 29% front-loaded budget cut to the Council (though I shalln't rehearse those arguments...)
     
  10. Transpontine

    Transpontine Moderator Staff Member

    Just why is New Cross library closing? Not a rhetorical question, I just haven't heard a convincing reason so far.

    If ECS put in a bid to run four libraries and they were deemed fit to run the other three, why has New Cross has been left out?

    Deptford and Canada Water (when it opens in Southwark) aren't far away for people with cars, but otherwise neither are in easy reach of New Cross for older people, parents with young children or school parties. And Deptford library is a long way from the west end of New Cross, where let us not forget Lewisham were promising a new library on Besson Street - presumably that site will remain derelict for the foreseeable future, now that the housing that was there before has been demolished.

    I think what Lewisham are doing is a long way from maintaining a decent library service, but at least the Eco solution keeps some kind of semi-public facility. Why not New Cross, certainly more socially deprived than, say, Blackheath?

    Is it because officers were told to sacrifice at least one library, and New Cross got the short straw as the smallest library? Is it because bruiser Bullock wanted to stick two fingers up to anti-cuts protestors who had occupied New Cross?

    Come to think of it why are Lewisham closing libraries on this scale? Yes I hold the Tories to blame for the cuts in funding, but Greenwich and Southwark are in a similar position as funding-strapped Labour Councils and neither are planning library cuts on the scale of Lewisham. Is it because the Executive Mayor system means that ward councillors have more power in the other councils?

    Which begs the final question - where are the New Cross councillors, or should I say 'who are...' for all they every seem to speak up for 'their' area.
     
  11. From what I understand, the ECS bid was strong for 3 libraries, but not for New Cross. Blackheath isn't being taken on by ECS - and yes New Cross is more socially deprived than Blackheath, but even Blackheath has some pockets of the worst deprivation in the UK.

    This has absolutely nothing to do with the occupation! I can't comment on other boroughs. All I can say is I read all 900+ pages of budget documentation and spent a lot of time looking at the options - I think what we've got is a good solution amongst pretty miserable options. Losing 29% of your budget ain't easy.

    The Council are now working on attempting to find another partner for New Cross. This is definitely not the end of the road....
     

Share This Page