In March, Carnegie Library was temporarily closed for refurbishment. As well as the existing neighbourhood library, empty spaces like the basement will be refitted to include a community hub, a gym and community spaces.
Lambeth has been drawing up plans for what this might look like – on the 21st and 22nd June there will be public exhibitions to view and comments on the proposals, meet councillors, officers and GLL, who would run the gym facility.
Since 2010 Lambeth
has had its
budget reduced by 56% – that’s more than £200 million
– which has had a
devastating effect on the borough’s finances, especially as the majority of Lambeth’s budget doesn’t come from council tax.
Lambeth’s budget for 2016/17 follows
another round of national cuts from central government.
also confirmed that in order to support existing services, it will be raising Council Tax by 1.99%,
along with the additional 2% Government precept for Adult Social Care.
Cllr Peck, the
leader of Lambeth Labour, writing
in her blog has said that: “This is undoubtedly the most
difficult economic situation the council has ever faced with the current
government imposing cut after cut. The idea that local authorities such as Lambeth can
keep finding new things to cut is farcical. But we are determined to get through it, protecting the
most vulnerable and finding new ways to provide the basic services which keep
our communities thriving. We
all have to work together and do our bit through these difficult times and I’m
confident the people of Lambeth can rise to this challenge.”
In practical terms, this changes mean
the council will be reducing its size with fewer staff employed – reductions
will have to be made in most areas, including the cultural services budget. We’re having to drive more efficiencies with our partners in areas like public health and social care, doing all we can protect frontline adult and children social care services as much as possible, protecting our important work around Violence Against Women and Girls, continuing to support those affected by Government welfare reforms and spending more on Council Tax support for those who can’t afford to pay.
In such harsh financial
circumstances, as your three Labour councillors, we will continue to work hard for residents’ needs.
The next full council meeting will be when we vote on our budget, so we wanted to share some information on context and changes ahead. If anyone has questions about the budget, please get in touch.
The council is launching a consultation on the future of cultural services in Lambeth. This sets out a vision for how we can deliver library services sustainably, in the face of huge cuts to our funding from the national government.
2012 we talked to residents about libraries. They challenged us on how we could provide free access to
books wider than ever before. They challenged us to use self serve
technology, volunteers and community spaces to create new places in the
heart of our neighbourhoods to borrow books and embrace reading.
Lambeth Council is now launching a consultation which shares our
vision for how we might deliver this. Please get involved, feedback your ideas and tell us what you think.
Our vision is –
5 town centre libraries where we’ll work with volunteers to extend opening hours
those town centre libraries supporting a wider Network of community
lending libraries in community settings – like the successful one in
community libraries like Carnegie potentially becoming community hubs – including community library provision.
This vision isn’t new – it’s the continuation of a conversation we’ve
been having for a long time. But the pace needs to pick up to achieve the budget
reductions that are now necessary.
We’ll have to make some tough decisions too. Some smaller libraries
simply won’t be able to continue. In West Norwood, we are lucky – the council and Picturehouse have exchanged contracts to develop Nettlefold Hall into a refurbished library and a new cinema for our community. There are going to be lots of opportunities to have your say on what our library will look like – watch this space!