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Culture 2020 – Libraries update

Progress has been made on Lambeth Council’s plans for the borough’s libraries. The plans, adopted as policy in October 2015 protect the town centre libraries in Brixton, Streatham, West Norwood and Clapham (newly opened in 2013), which account for the majority of library usage.

The council will also continue to fund Upper Norwood Joint Library jointly with Croydon Council. The library service in Waterloo will be moved from its current location to the nearby Oasis Centre.

A four-week consultation on the proposals for Tate South Lambeth in South Lambeth Road becoming a healthy living centre and Durning Library in Kennington becoming a town centre library has now concluded and, having listened to people, the council recognises the desire to keep these libraries open.

We therefore propose that Tate South Lambeth and Durning Library will both remain open until we can identify a permanent site for a town centre library for the north of the borough. However the decision to keep both Tate South Lambeth and Durning Library open may mean reduced opening hours.

Staff Mutual Proposal

The idea of a staff mutual was first discussed and encouraged in 2012. The library management expressed an interest in establishing a staff mutual in April 2015 as part of their response to Culture 2020 consultation. This expression of interest was judged as not viable. As part of a review by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, they asked if the staff mutual could be considered again. The library management was given a further opportunity to provide an updated proposal in line with the cabinet decision. This was submitted in January 2016. The council offered the library management funding of £10,000 to buy financial and legal support in preparing the proposal.

A panel led by Lambeth council’s Strategic Director for Corporate Resources, who was not involved in the Culture 2020 consultation, including an expert from an independent agency called Mutual Ventures which was involved in setting up a Staff Mutual system for libraries in York, as well as council legal and finance officers evaluated the proposal.

Their assessment found that while the Staff and Community Mutual proposal contained some good proposals for service improvements, there was not a business plan in place that could deliver the significant savings required by 1 April 2016. The proposal did not address in detail questions about the transfer of legal responsibilities, staff terms and conditions or how they could generate more income. It was not a viable plan that could deliver the savings required within the next 12-18months.

Carnegie and Minet

Both Carnegie and Minet will proceed as healthy living centres, in partnership with Greenwich Leisure Limited, the social enterprise which runs Lambeth’s leisure centres. For Minet, the council is ensuring that we can maintain the building and the archives, alongside a reduced neighbourhood library service.

At Carnegie, the council has been working with the Community Trust, local councillors and residents to ensure that the proposed healthy living centre works for users. GLL will run a gym alongside community space and a neighbourhood library service and the council will continue to work with the community to encourage greater ownership of this much valued local asset.

For more information visit the Lambeth’s libraries – questions and answers page at http://www.lambeth.gov.uk/lambeth-libraries-faq

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