The proposals to sell off two libraries in Lambeth have been forced as a result of government plans to cut local funding by 50%, claims a Labour councillor.
Lambeth council’s culture department are exploring alternative avenues of funding, partly by potential selling Minet and Waterloo libraries, in order to make up the revenue shortfall and create a £10million endowment fund.
The council are currently in a 12-week consultation period regarding the library fund, which is set to reduce by £800,000 by 2018, and Councillor Jane Edbrooke, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said the council would like to hear residents’ suggestions.
Cllr Edbrooke said: “These libraries are such a small player in the cultural services in Lambeth – they are dwarfed in comparison to the other services on offer.
“We see the money helping to create two types of library services.
“One will be a more traditional service and the other will be more like a third sector-run community library which will receive money from the endowment fund and other sources of funding.
“We realise it’s an ambitious endowment pot – raising the money won’t be easy but we feel these proposals are the best option.
“At the moment no decisions have been made. I am absolutely open to ideas from residents.”
The Labour councillor explained that she believes the negative response from some residents is more of a reaction to the government’s cuts, and less to the proposals themselves.
With Minet and Waterloo respectively seeing just 3.6% and 3% of Lambeth’s library usage, Cllr Edbrooke explained the sale of the underused premises would allow protection for other libraries in the area.
“I feel though the anger is more at the national government and not Lambeth council,” she said.
“The idea is for two underused buildings to be sold off. The asset disposal will create additional revenue to help existing libraries.
“We’re looking to safeguard the hours of libraries that people use.”
Image courtesy of Google Maps, with thanks