Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods: Councillor Jane Edbrooke
Strategic Director, Neighbourhoods and Growth: Sue Foster
Contact: John Kerridge, Associate Director Commissioning (Communities), JKerridge@lambeth.gov.uk; 0207 926 2744
The Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Councillor Jane Edbrooke introduced the report, stating that it was a result of the unprecedented financial challenges facing the Council. There was a £4 million cut being faced by cultural services within the Council, and therefore a balancing act needed to be struck. Furthermore, there had been a 50% reduction in the grant received from central Government, and therefore the report represented a need to address these challenges whilst still meeting the Council’s statutory obligations.
Tim Odell, UNION representative for library staff, addressed Cabinet and made the following points:
· The report was an incompetent piece of work and would render the Council open to legal challenge;
· Libraries were essential for access to education and social mobility;
· The proposals put forward were designed to benefit Greenwich Leisure Ltd. (GLL, not-for-profit organisation) and represented a lack of imagination on the part of Lambeth Labour;
· The recommendations in the report would have an especially negative impact on Lambeth’s Muslim community;
· It was unacceptable that gyms were being prioritised over libraries;
· The Council should adopt a more holistic approach to the financial situation.
Laura Swaffield, a representative from Friends of Lambeth Libraries, also raised the following points:
· It was acknowledged that the Council was facing severe cuts from central Government, however the wisdom of a scheme which greatly benefited GLL by several million pounds was questioned;
· The library service in Lambeth was nationally-recognised and provided a wide range of valuable services to Lambeth’s most vulnerable residents;
Collette Thomas, Chair of Lambeth Parks Forum, also raised the following points:
· More information needed to be provided in order to understand how the parks would be maintained at basic levels;
· The necessity of cuts were recognised, but the report had not been properly thought through;
· There had not been proper resident consultation prior to the publication of the report;
· More information was needed regarding the capital investment plan.
In response to queries regarding potential legal challenges, the Director of Corporate Resources, Mark Hynes, responded that section 13 of the report contained a detailed legal analysis, covering issues such as the consultation process, requirements for Secretary of State consent for land disposals and state aid issues which should allay concerns Cabinet and residents may have about the validity of any future legal challenge to the process
Adrian Smith, the Director of Strategy & Commissioning, Neighbourhoods, raised the following points in response to questions from speakers:
· The report sets out the framework for needs assessment based on changing demography and outlines what residents can expect with regards to book stock, self-service, wi-fi provision, etc.
· The leisure service on offer will be similar to other Council leisure services;
· There is provision for staff retention set out in the report;
· The lease agreement with GLL would be subject to the decision taken by Cabinet at the meeting;
· There is a £20 million park capital investment programme, and the Council was in the final stages of due diligence regarding individual capital investment schemes;
· The events strategy would ... view the full minutes text for item 3