This week sees an important milestone for the re-opening of Carnegie library with business plans submitted from the two groups applying to run the building, as well as GLL’s planning application.
The current timetable is for Carnegie to re-open at the end of next year with increased opening hours, a comprehensive book stock at a similar level as previously, study space, librarians on site for at least two hours per day and a programme of community activities. The building will eventually be transferred to one of the two local community groups who have expressed an interest in running the building.
The council worked closely with both groups – The Carnegie Community Trust and The Carnegie Library Association – and the asset transfer submissions will be independently assessed over the coming months. Underpinning both proposals is the refurbishment of the building, including the excavation of the currently unused basement to make space for a gym, which will help meet the running costs of building. The planning application will be determined in early 2017.
Despite misleading claims to the contrary, Lambeth is not permanently closing any libraries. We are committed to delivering 10 libraries in the borough, despite Government funding cuts of 56% over the last six years that will see our budget reduced by £200 million by 2018.
These cuts mean we’ve had to look at every single service we provide. We have safeguarded funding for our Violence Against Women and Girls programme, as well as ensuring resources remain in place for our council tax support scheme, which helps 30,000 vulnerable residents every year. But this has resulted in tough decisions elsewhere. For the library service this has meant a reduction of around £800k but while councils in other areas of the countries have had to make wholesale closures, our efforts have focused on finding site by site solutions so that each library can stay open.
The community trust model we hope to see at Carnegie is already proving to be a success in Upper Norwood, where the library trust took over the running of the building on 1 July. They are doing great work, overseeing a service that provides 35 hours of library staff cover per week, while developing plans to provide a range of cultural and educational activities for the local community.
Elsewhere, Waterloo library has successfully moved to its new building and a contractor has been appointed for the long-awaited new library in West Norwood. Local councillors have been instrumental in the development of the plans there and when work is completed at the end of next year local residents will be able to enjoy a full town centre library service alongside a 4 screen cinema and café.
Local councillors at Nettlefold Hall
Durning & Tate South Lambeth remain open while we continue to explore options for a town centre library in the north of the borough and it is proposed that a neighbourhood library will re-open in Minet in 2017 once a study into the future location of Lambeth Archives has concluded.
It’s been a challenging year but given the extremely difficult financial context, I’m happy that we can say we are committed to delivering ten libraries. We’ve made this commitment because we recognise the value of libraries, not just as lending services but as community hubs with a wide range of activities. Despite the circumstances we remain committed to pursuing an approach that is ambitious and fair to all our residents.
Cllr Jack Hopkins, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business and Culture