Lambeth Council proposes to sell Minet and Waterloo Libraries, and end funding for three others in the borough


Lambeth Council is planning to sell the Minet and Waterloo Libraries.

Funding will also be stopped for the Durning, Carnegie and Upper Norwood Library. An expected £10m will be raised from the sale of the Minet and Waterloo. This would then be used to set up an endowment fund to help residents run community libraries.

The Minet Library at Myatt’s Fields is home of the Lambeth Archives. Brixton Buzz broke the story at the start of the week that Lambeth Council would be announcing today the proposed move of the Lambeth Archives from the Minet to Brixton Library.

The announcement is far worse that we first thought. If the plans go ahead, it will leave just five libraries in the borough under control of Lambeth Council: Brixton, Streatham, Clapham, West Norwood and the smaller Tate South along South Lambeth Road.

This major change in the management of Lambeth libraries was announced by Cllr Jane Edbrooke, the Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods:

“Selling Minet and Waterloo libraries will give us a pot of money to support community libraries so this is an opportunity to be bold with ideas whether that’s going digital or sharing space to generate income.”

Cllr Edbrooke is keen for ‘volunteers, communities and friends groups’ to take over the running of the other libraries from Lambeth Council.

Cuts from central government are singled out by Cllr Edbrooke as the reason for this scaling down of the service:

“Libraries are essential safe spaces for everyone and anyone to explore, to investigate and dream. We are committed to that but we have to face the reality of these drastic cuts to our budget.”

Lambeth Council had a further £18m of cuts for the next financial year as part of the local government settlement that was announced in December. This is on top of the existing 50% reduction since the Coalition came to power.

A consultation has been launched by Lambeth Council so that residents can offer any feedback about the proposed sale of the two libraries, and stopping the funding of the other three.

TWENTY supporting documents need to be ploughed through. We hope that the aim of pushing so much information out there is to inform, and not to put off residents. It will take you the best part of the weekend just to get through it all.

The consultation also covers other cultural services such as parks and leisure services. Reference is made to pimping out the parks for more private events in order to generate extra income for the council.

The changes have been scheduled to be completed by 2020. This is an ambitious date in which to predict anything politically. We have no idea what type of party / coalition will be governing in Westminster in a few months time, let alone the impact that it will have in Lambeth in five years from now.

Chances are that funding will be squeezed further still.

You can discuss the proposed changes on the urban75 thread over here.