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Culture, Education and learning, Leisure

Library services in Lambeth protected from the cuts

Lambeth council’s Cabinet meeting last night approved the Culture 2020 report which plots the way forward for libraries, parks, the arts and sports in the borough in the face of deep budget cuts.

A lively discussion around the challenges, issues and concerns was held at Dunraven School in Leigham Court Road, Streatham in front of a full house. More than a dozen speakers from the community gave their views to the meeting.

The main focus of evening was plans for the borough’s libraries. Following the discussion the decision was taken by the Cabinet to adopt the report with unanimous backing.

Cllr Jane Edbrooke, Cabinet member for Neighbourhoods, said: “This process has been prompted by the Government cutting our funding, which has left us needing to make £200million in savings between April 2010 and March 2016.

“There’s no way we can avoid this having an impact, and means we have to change the way we do things. And in the case of cultural services that means spending £4million less by 2018 on cultural services, which includes libraries, parks, the arts and sports.

“To tackle this issue head on we have listened to residents, worked with the community groups and been creative in how we keep services open to the public. I know change is difficult, I know no one want to see services revised – but that is the reality we now face.

“That said, I am satisfied that the Culture 2020 plans mean we are doing the best for the borough in very challenging times. It means we will have five town centre libraries offering a high quality services.

“There will be no change to the existing town centre library services in Brixton, Streatham, Clapham and West Norwood. And further we will have a new town centre library in West Norwood at the Nettlefold Hall development which includes a cinema and café, subject to planning permission.

“These libraries will remain professionally staffed by the council and have extended opening hours.

“We will work with Greenwich Leisure Limited, the social enterprise company that runs Lambeth’s leisure centres, on the creation of an independent, not-for-profit Lambeth Cultural Trust, starting with three trial sites at Carnegie, Minet and Tate South Lambeth libraries.

“These new services will potentially give residents the chance to use both health and library services in one place.

“I believe this is a great deal for the borough. One that we have worked incredibly hard to achieve, and one that allows us to prioritise spending on services social care for the young, elderly, disabled and vulnerable – while keeping our very valuable library services intact.”

A four-week consultation on the proposals for Tate South Lambeth becoming a healthy living centre and Durning Library in Kennington becoming a town centre library will start in November. For more details visit www.lambeth.gov.uk/culture2020.

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