New court battle looms for council

Written by on December 4, 2015 in Community, Council, Libraries, News - 3 Comments
Inside the Carnegie library

Inside the Carnegie library

Lambeth council faces another embarrassing court case as library campaigners plan to seek a judicial review of its decision-making and consultation of residents.

The High Court ruled last month that the way it had conducted consultation on the future of its Cressingham Gardens housing estate was unlawful.

Now a user of the Carnegie library near Loughborough Junction is working with lawyers to seek another judicial review.

And the campaigners accuse the Labour Party of setting up an organisation dominated by party members to prevent democratic control of the library’s future.

Carnegie is one of three Lambeth libraries out of a total of ten that the council plans to hand over to its leisure provider GLL to run as gyms with unstaffed book areas.

It blames massive cuts in government funding and the need to maintain statutory services like adult and child care.

Campaigners against the plan say the council is ignoring the effect its plans will have, especially on poor and disabled people. They also accuse the council of ignoring a plan drawn up by one of its own officers that could achieve the same level of savings as the council plan without turning libraries into gyms. The council says this plan is not viable.

Friends of Lambeth Libraries, an umbrella body for supporters of all ten libraries said: “We are being forced to go to law because Lambeth refuses to listen. We have gone through all its democratic processes, and been faced with the same blank wall every time.

“It is still open to Lambeth to re-think, and accept an alternative that residents support. We very much hope it will do so.”

“There is time, as its own plan is barely worked out – and many serious questions remain unanswered.”

Supporters of Carnegie library have produced a strongly argued document that attacks the Carnegie Community Trust. They say its eight-person board contains at least five local Labour party activists who, they say, work “in close cooperation” with the council cabinet member in charge of libraries, Jane Edbrooke.

The “charitable incorporated organisation”, registered with the Charity Commission, says it wishes to work with the council and that it has consulted locally on plans to turn the library into a “community hub” that would be “owned by the community”.

It says a business plan to support an application to transfer the library to the organisation will be completed this month.

The organisation is not supporting the gym option but is seeking money from the Heritage Lottery Fund to make major changes to the building, transforming it into a “community hub and enterprise library”.

The Friends of Carnegie Library say this would involve closure of the library and its removal from democratic control.

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. He works out of an office in St Matthews and before that the Bon Marché. 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.

3 Comments on "New court battle looms for council"

  1. Priya February 14, 2016 at 10:00 am ·

    Chris – I agree in principle, but let’s imiagne that a segregated cycle path were put in Regent street. It couldn’t be wide enough for fast overtaking. Having lost a third of the road space, one could imiagne buses and taxis successfully lobbying for mandatory use for cyclists – i.e. banned from the road, and the safer path would tempt more tourists onto the Boris bikes (which is what we want). Net result would be a a walking-pace cycle path with tourists stopped outside Hamleys and Carnaby street taking pictures and cycle couriers hitting them with broken cranks in a vain attempt to get past. As for the cycle rickshaws…..

  2. marsha December 4, 2015 at 5:02 pm ·

    My daughter and I love all the Lambeth Libraries particularly Carnigie and visit and spend time there at least three times per week during the school holidays.

    There has been no real consideration for peoples views and I believe that this is a deliberate act of selfishness

  3. decidendi December 4, 2015 at 3:15 pm ·

    Just gets better doesn’t it, not. I wonder how much this administration has cost the people of Lambeth?

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