Lambeth Campaigners Oppose Library Plans

Lambeth campaigners are working flat-out to defend libraries from the disastrous Culture2020 plan  due to be rushed through the Council Cabinet on Monday 12 October. .

‘Lambeth hasn’t made it easy,’ says Laura Swaffield, Chair of Friends of Lambeth Libraries. ‘The report only appeared at 5pm on October 2. Many people just don’t know about it.

  • ‘And it contains a lot of surprises. It’s radically different from the original version. Ten days is grossly inadequate to get the message out. But Lambeth seems intent on forcing these huge changes through, with no public consultation.’
  • ‘The biggest surprise is the sudden appearance of leisure company GLL, never mentioned before. It’s taking a major role in libraries – on very generous terms. The whole thing looks odd, to say the least.’
  • ‘But what’s really upsetting people is the damage to their service. People are furious. Lambeth has had to change the venue for the cabinet meeting because so many people want to come.’
  • ‘Ironically, the bigger venue – Dunraven School, Leigham Court Road in Streatham – isn’t easy to get to. We know many people who dearly wanted to attend – but now can’t.’

Every library will suffer from ‘the startling new proposals.’

  • 25% staff cut on top of severe cuts last year.
  • Carnegie, Minet, Tate South Lambeth, Upper Norwood and Waterloo are to be reduced in size – drastically with few books, and some computers, ‘stuck in a corner somewhere.’
  • ‘Even worse than that – these libraries will have NO STAFF. This is unprecedented. The libraries currently buzz with free activities for all ages. With no staff, all that will go.’
  • There ‘will be nobody to safeguard children, help people use the computers or find information. Older people, disabled people, those with little English – in a deprived borough like Lambeth there’s a long list of people who often need support using a library.’
  • ‘They are betraying the vulnerable people who need libraries most.’


Librarian Tim O’Dell of Lambeth UNISON says:

  • ‘Staff and local readers are rightly shocked. There is no evidence that anyone wanted their local library turned into a gym.
  • ‘Services used by children and elderly people will be swapped for weightlifting and cross-trainers. Free services will be exchanged for a fee charging gym!
  • ‘How many children will learn to read at the gym, how many older people will find a friendly face?’

Friends of Carnegie

Jeff Doorn, Chair of the Friends of Carnegie Library, said:

  • ‘This will destroy our library, which is a flourishing hub of the local community.
  • ‘It promotes the health and wellbeing of people of all ages and fitness levels, not just the minority who will use a gym.’

Friends of Tate South Lambeth

Edith Holtham, chair of Friends of Tate South Lambeth Library, says:

  • ‘We are appalled at this proposal, which eviscerates Lambeth’s library service.
  • ‘It is particularly depressing that Lambeth rejected a proposal from library managers for a charitable trust to run all the existing libraries – as libraries – on a reduced budget that would meet Lambeth’s spending targets.
  • ‘This is a model that has worked in other local authorities. So why not Lambeth?’


Laura Swaffield  07914 491145
Tim O’Dell
Jeff Doorn
Edith Holtham
Lambeth libraries portfolio holder: Cllr Jane Edbrooke

Other Analyses

Brixton Buzz:

Norwood Society:

Steve Reed MP:

Kate Hoey, MP:


About seancreighton1947

Since moving to Norbury in July 2011 I have been active on local economy, housing and environment issues with Croydon TUC and Croydon Assembly. I am a member of the Love Norbury Residents Associations Planning & Transport Committees, and Chair of Nobury Community Land Trust. I write for Croydon Citizen at I co-ordinate the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and Croydon Radical History Networks and edit the North East Popular Politics database. History Project.. I give history talks and lead history walks. I retired in 2012 having worked in the community/voluntary sector and on heritage projects. My history interests include labour movement, mutuality, Black British, slavery & abolition, Edwardian roller skating and the social and political use of music and song. I have a particular interest in the histories of Battersea and Wandsworth, Croydon and Lambeth. I have a publishing imprint History & Social Action Publications.
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