Government considering Lambeth library inquiry

Written by on April 11, 2016 in Council, Libraries, News - 5 Comments
Librarians in Brixton library

Library workers in Brixton library

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is considering mounting an inquiry into Lambeth library services after receiving complaints from campaigners.

The government department has a duty to intervene under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 if a council fails to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service.

The Defend the Ten campaigners said DCMS had been following events in Lambeth for some months.

A DCMS spokesperson said: “The department has received a number of representations concerning the changes made to Lambeth council’s library service provision. After careful consideration, these are being treated as formal complaints in accordance with the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.”

The department will write to Lambeth Council to seek information and clarification.

A council spokesman said: “As part of the Culture 2020 planning process we took legal advice to ensure that Lambeth Council’s library proposals met the statutory requirements.

“We would be happy to provide the DCMS details of the cost saving measures we have put in place to ensure Lambeth Libraries remain opening during a period of unprecedented cuts to council budgets.

“Yes there will be changes to library services. But our hard work, in consultation with the community, means that we are not closing libraries – there are ten libraries in Lambeth now, and there will be ten libraries in the future.

“Carnegie Library, for example, will reopen with a library service that will remain free and open to all. The new gym will be housed in the currently unused basement of the building and the rest of the building will provide at least as much community space as now, including a library service.”

The campaigners are organising a public meeting on Thursday (14 April).

About the Author

Alan Slingsby moved to Brixton just as the 1981 uprising began. His nearest pub was the Effra and nearest off licence the Frontline — long gone in an earlier wave of closures of treasured community establishments. Has edited newspapers for the National Union of Students and National Union of Teachers. Now makes a living designing magazines and books and anything else people will pay him for.

5 Comments on "Government considering Lambeth library inquiry"

  1. Linda Heiden April 15, 2016 at 4:51 pm ·

    The library closures came about as a result of the draconian cuts forced upon Lambeth Council by the same Tory government you are appealing to. It would be more than a bit rich for the Tories now to tell Lambeth how to manage what’s left of their budget!!

    I am completely behind our community’s alternative plan to keep all the libraries open and staffed with professionals. But appealling to the Tories for help in keeping community services going is like asking the Pope to keep abortion clinics funded!!

  2. Eratosthenes April 12, 2016 at 1:10 pm ·

    Gym in basement of library! I hope Lambeth Council have done an asbestos survey there?

  3. Alan Slingsby April 11, 2016 at 4:23 pm ·

    Because I asked the DCMS and that is what they told me.

  4. Dil April 11, 2016 at 4:21 pm ·

    The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) is considering mounting an inquiry into Lambeth library services after receiving complaints from campaigners.

    Excuse me but nothing in the fourth paragraph (ie. the DCMS’ response) refers to the DCMS mounting an enquiry or even considering mounting an enquiry. They just say they’re being treated as formal complaints.

    Where’s your evidence?

    • Nick April 12, 2016 at 3:55 pm ·

      Look at section 10(1) of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. This basically says that if the Sec of State receives complaints about the way a local authority is running its library service, and thinks there’s something in them, then the next step is to hold an inquiry before deciding what to do about it:

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