Petition details

Tate South Lambeth Library

We the undersigned petition the Council to We the undersigned petition the council to continue to provide a full library service at Tate South Lambeth Library (TSLL), and to drop the plan to turn TSLL into a gym with minimal, unstaffed book loan facilities

TSLL provides and well-run and popular library for the local community which includes some of the most deprived parts of the borough. It is also close to public transport at Vauxhall and Stockwell and several bus routes.
As a crucial community resource, TSLL also provides services including:
* outreach to the local BME Communities: Afro-Caribbean, Portuguese, Eritrean, with Spanish and a unique Portuguese-language section;
* Support to local SMEs and the community through craft shows;
* support for the Government's 'Greening' campaign via the library gardening club & the Community Freshview programme (council initiative);
* digital training sessions (which have won a national award);
* a CV workshop;
* parent and toddler play and music sessions (English, Portuguese and Eritrean);
* homework and reading support sessions for primary schoolchildren;
* a teen discussion and reading group;
an older people's group;
* English conversation classes, including classes in basic English for Portuguese-speakers;
* craft, chess, board games and computer gaming for young people;
* dementia carers support meetings;
* at least three reading groups;
* knitting clubs for seniors and children;
* classic film screenings;
* last but not least, a regular programme of events staged by Friends of TSLL on library premises, providing an important social meeting place, particularly for older people and people with disabilities

TSLL meets all the criteria set out in the health impact assessment of the Culture 2020 Report. This would not be enhanced by turning the space into a gym, even if some of these events were able to continue in some form.

Started by: Philip Inglesant

This Petition ran from 09/12/2015 to 20/01/2016 and has now finished.

166 people signed this Petition.

Council response

Dear Mr Inglesant

I am writing in response to your e-petition that you recently submitted to the Council concerning the Tate South Library.

As you will be aware the unprecedented cuts to local government funding means Councillors have to weigh up very difficult decisions. The future of our library service is one such decision and I’m keen to take this opportunity to explain what we are doing and the reasons why.

The big picture is that Lambeth council overall is faced with having to make £200million in savings. That money currently helps pay towards the running lot of important things in Lambeth, including parks, libraries, open spaces and keeping the streets clean, as well as services to protect children, vulnerable adults and tackling violence towards women and girls.

As we now have less money to do all those things we must prioritise which are the most important, and as a council we have decided that our biggest focus has to be on protecting the most vulnerable people in our community. We haven’t made this decision lightly, but having weighed up all the options we’ve concluded that care for our elderly and children at risk must be put first. Sadly that means other services will need to find savings.

This isn’t a decision that has been welcomed by all, and it’s not the kind of decision anyone enjoys having to make, but we feel this decision is both fair and right given the circumstances. Lambeth council currently spend £10million in support of cultural services, which includes parks, libraries, sport and leisure centres. By 2018 this will drop to £6million. This means there will be less money for libraries, and how we provide local libraries will need to change. It’s worth noting that since 2010 around 400 libraries have closed across the country because of budget cuts. In Lambeth we are working our hardest to avoid closures, and instead coming up with new ways to keep open the services we recognise that you value so much.

What we are trying to do
We started a programme of £6m investment in our library buildings, which has included the total refurbishment of Streatham library. We intend to complete this investment, which will include a new library building opening in West Norwood by 2017-18. We also have plans to open a further town centre library in the north of the borough by 2020. Our plan is to maintain five town centre libraries in the borough at Clapham, West Norwood, Brixton, Streatham and North Lambeth. This does mean that there changes to the way we deliver the services in our neighbourhoods.
We want to use our neighbourhood library buildings differently to generate new income, so we have agreed to create buildings that will provide a smaller neighbourhood library, a gym/healthy living facility that people will have to pay a fee to join and use, rental space for local groups and small enterprises. By doing this we believe we will not be faced with closing the builds permanently, which quite a few other councils have done. The Neighbourhood Libraries will provide:
• Free Wi-Fi access.
• Computers.
• Study space.
• Book stock will be planned and managed by the Lambeth library service on a rotating basis, which will reflect local needs, culture and community languages.

Whilst there will be no permanent Lambeth library staff on site, provision will be made in the budget for the Lambeth library staff to curate and tailor activity. I would be very interested to hear your views on what types of activity you would like within the resources available.

What will happen next
We are currently consulting on the proposed changes the proposals around the interim North Lambeth library.


Jane Edbrooke,
Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods


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