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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. 

Over the 30 years that I’ve lived in Herne Hill, local people have time and again proved themselves a creative and resourceful partner for the council, frequently leading Lambeth towards solutions the council could not have achieved on its own.  In the late 1990s when it was clear the council could no longer fund it, the closed and decaying Brockwell Lido was transformed into the thriving hub it is today by bringing in a not for profit leisure partner to put a gym and other activities alongside the pool. 

The complex project to create a new square in front of the station was led by the community using investment and support from TfL and Lambeth. The phenomenal success of the crowdfunding project to keep the Ruskin Park paddling pool open last summer is only the most recent example. Now Herne Hill’s brilliant 198 Gallery – no longer in receipt of council funding – is redeveloping, doubling its floorspace to add creative business startups and new arts based enterprise uses alongside its core educational and artistic functions. This will give it the income to train young people for creative and digital work in the south London economy.

In addition to being outstanding examples of the ingenuity of Herne Hill people and businesses all these projects which have made our neighbourhood a hugely better place to live have one crucial thing in common. That is a recognition that sometimes things have to change to survive; that in difficult times new solutions are often needed. This is often controversial. Back in 2008 there was major opposition to the creation of Station Square where we now have our much-valued market. Those with even longer memories might recall the sense of outrage felt that the council could no longer subsidise Brockwell Lido.

The transfer of the Carnegie building to a community run organisation is the next big challenge that Herne Hill people will need to meet showing the same mix of expertise, energy and co-operative values. The council will retain the freehold and the building’s leasehold will be taken over by one of two bidding organisations. The gym in the previously largely derelict basement will be run - as with Brockwell Lido - by a not for profit provider (the council’s leisure partner GLL). This will cover the cost of hosting the library and providing staff on the ground floor. Open double the previous hours and offering a similar number of books, DVDs, computers and plenty of study space there will be librarians present for part of every week day. All the previous activities including those for children, community groups and much more will run again.  There will be an opportunity to get a café open in the building to attract new visitors and complement the library. Space for arts and performance will also be possible as well as a chance to create dedicated facilities for small business, training and enterprise uses.

The transfer will crucially open up the exciting prospect of major investment from sources not currently available to the council. A successful Heritage Lottery Fund bid - which Lambeth as key partner will need to match fund – could give the building the major refurbishment it sorely needs including a new roof and preservation of the building’s crucial heritage features. The council for its part needs to hugely improve communication and engagement with local people. 

For the past 100 years the Carnegie has been the centre of our community. But it has had to exist for many years on ever diminishing public subsidy which has now run out as the council struggles to keep services for children, disabled  and older people afloat. Some other councils have responded to similar circumstances by closing libraries or turning them into volunteer run facilities. This is an approach that the Labour Party in Lambeth strongly rejects. In Herne Hill we have shown we can do much better.  

By forming yet another creative partnership between the community and the council we can once more call upon the energy and imagination of Herne Hill’s people to prepare the Carnegie to be a flagship library and community hub for the next 100 years.

Cllr Jim Dickson, Labour Councillor for Herne Hill

Energy and imagination of Herne Hill community can help secure Carnegie's future for the next 100 years.

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...

Business owners across Lambeth will soon be receiving next year’s rates bills. Most will see a significant increase – some by as much as 45%. Small businesses, already squeezed by rising rates and higher post-Brexit costs will be hit hardest


Since launching our ‘Rates Rise’ campaign last year we’ve been contacted by dozens of business owners. Dominic Lake, the founder of the Canteen restaurant on the Southbank, which employs 150 people says that worry about the future keeps him awake at night.

The government has shaken off criticism, saying it expects businesses will absorb the rise.  But while this may be true of profitable multi-nationals, there is strong evidence that lots of small business will be pushed over the edge.

Whether it’s a family-run café in Streatham or a barbers in Brixton, small businesses are the lifeblood of Lambeth. We have a higher rate of SMEs than anywhere else in London. They shape the character and identity of our borough, help create a sense of community and support thousands of jobs for local people.  

This is why, together with our Business Improvement Districts we have led a borough-wide campaign to fight the increases. We’ve written to every business in the borough, passed a motion at full council and delivered a petition to the Secretary of State. Together we’ve argued for the Government to sort out transitional arrangements to cushion the blow and in the longer term to commission a review of the effectiveness of business rates as a method of tax.

Sadly, the Government doesn’t seem to be listening. The transitional relief announced in the Autumn Statement – capping rises at 42% next year, down from 45%, and at 32%, from 50% the year after - is pathetically inadequate.  To rub salt in the wounds, yesterday we had the news that Amazon is to receive a big tax cut, with the bill for its warehouses in Britain set to fall by more than £140,000. How can it be fair that Amazon pays less while small businesses here have to pay thousands more?

This news followed the revelation last week that that Tory Surrey Council had struck a secret deal with the Government in return for calling off a referendum on increasing council tax. The planned increase was to help relieve pressure on social care budgets. The Government may have bought off Surrey but they’ve done nothing to address the funding crisis they have created. The Tories cut £4.6bn from social care in the last parliament and every day the Prime Minister fails to act it gets worse.

The Government likes to talk the language of fairness but the sweetheart deal for Surrey and the tax breaks for Amazon show there is a growing gap between their words and actions.   

Cllr Lib Peck, Leader of Lambeth Council

Sweetheart deals for Surrey and tax-breaks for Amazon - this Government has a strange idea of fairness

Business owners across Lambeth will soon be receiving next year’s rates bills. Most will see a significant increase – some by as much as 45%. Small businesses, already squeezed by...

Lambeth’s parks and green spaces are amongst the best in London. Whether it’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in the north or Streatham Common in the south, there are over sixty parks and green spaces for residents to enjoy. Twelve have been awarded green flags – meaning that they are officially ranked amongst the very best in the country. Our parks are special and we will continue to protect them. 


A report released this weekend shows the impact of huge central Government cuts on green spaces across the country. Figures suggest Newcastle’s parks budget has fallen from £3m to £0.3m in five years.

Lambeth has been affected too. The 56% cut in our central government funding has meant that we have had to reduce our parks budget. However, our priority has been to manage this challenge in a way that minimises the impact on parks users. We have cut back office costs, brought the maintenance service in-house and introduced a ‘Parks Investment Levy’ so that the proceeds from major events can be reinvested in our parks.

We have also looked at opportunities for augmenting the reduced budget by earning more from the parks’ assets, such as introducing licensing for fitness trainers or professional dog walkers. This will only be done after careful consideration– there are no proposals to charge for Parkruns, for example.

I’m confident that the vast majority of residents will have noticed little difference - 76%  say that their local park is ‘good or excellent’ according to a recent residents survery. We want to keep it that way.

The council works very closely with Friends of Parks groups and together a new Parks Charter is being drawn up. This will set out and define the partnership between Lambeth and the Lambeth Parks Forum (the representative body of park users) and will cover things like oversight of the budget, maintenance, consultation on nearby planning applications and how any available money (Section 106 or CIL) will be spent. It will also create a forum where users can propose initiatives, express concerns and receive regular feedback on the management of parks.

Finally, on a very positive note, in January 2015 Lambeth’s Cabinet approved a “Parks Capital Investment Programme”, paving the way for over £20m of investment up to 2019.

Around £11m of this will come from Lambeth and the remainder from external sources such as the Heritage Lottery. Amongst the approved projects are new sports pitches and changing rooms in Archbishops Park, replacement of the run-down playground in Streatham Common, the redevelopment of the old depot at Myatt’s Field to provide new community facilities and money for Brixton Windmill to expand their educational activities. You can find more details on our website:

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business & Culture

Protecting our parks

Lambeth’s parks and green spaces are amongst the best in London. Whether it’s Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in the north or Streatham Common in the south, there are over sixty parks...

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