Over 100 protesters packed the Lambeth planning committee meeting last night (Tuesday Feb 7) that condemned the Carnegie Library to a very uncertain future as an unwanted gym – at a cost of £3m. They were joined by local author Stella Duffy – just days after she picked up an OBE.
The library made headlines worldwide in April 2016 when it was occupied for 10 days by local people desperate to keep their popular library.
Surveys have repeatedly shown that they do not want a gym. Protests continued throughout the year.
The Defend the 10 campaign – which supports an alternative plan that would preserve all 10 of Lambeth’s libraries while making more savings than the bizarre gyms plan – said:
The council’s only reaction has been to plough right on – and to lay on police and 12 security guards at last night’s meeting.
Councillors sneaked in through the back door to avoid us.
Strangest of all, Councillor Jim Dickson argued at the meeting that the mad waste of £3m is necessary because of government cuts!
Letters objecting to plan: 313.
Letters in favour: 5
Speakers at meeting objecting to plan:
3 local people representing hundreds more – David Taylor (Herne Hill Society); Jeff Doorn (Friends of Carnegie Library); Sara Bredemear (representing people living in the area.
Cllr Scott Ainslie was not permitted to speak, but you can read the full text of his proposed speech here.
Speakers in favour:
No local people. Stuart Roberts from Icon (proposed builders of the gym); Sandra Roebuck (Lambeth council officer); cllr Jim Dickson.
Campaigners for Defend The Ten commented:
Jim Dickson added amendments to the original report that rushed through the gyms plan with no consultation and no publicity (Cabinet meeting Oct 12, 2015).
One was for Lambeth to work with residents. It did not. It worked against all protests, which included a petition with 10,000+ signatures.
At the planning meeting he proposed a new ‘liaison group” to work with “the community” on the final destruction of their library. Much hilarity & cries of “We are the community!” from the packed audience…
More info and background:
Defend The 10 website
Take a look around the library in our photo feature.