Invitation to Jeremy Corbyn and John MacDonnell to intervene in favour of libraries

To Jeremy Corbyn

John MacDonnell

As you probably know from the London and national media, friends, LP members and supporters of the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill Lambeth have been occupying their library for several days.

This library, along with Minet Library, was to be closed on March 31st,. About 140 people came to the closing down party and many decided not to leave in protest against Lambeth council’s plan hand over the Carnegie library to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) to turn it into a gym with bookshelves but no librarians.

The GC of Dulwich and West Norwood LP, within whose boundaries the Carnegie Library is, has opposed the chaotically introduced library plans from the start, as has the community in all consultations and even the unelected Trust set up by the council itself. The campaign gathered over 10,000 signatures that Lambeth Council has ignored, held several demonstrations of hundreds of people and lobbied the council consistently over the last year. Even a well worked out and financially sound plan from the Chief Librarian to save all 10 libraries in Lambeth was rejected when it was finally considered at the last minute.

At the end of March we learned of yet another plan for our Grade 2 listed 1906 library – a plan to excavate the basement to put in a gym at a possible cost of one to two million pounds, an amount that could have paid librarians for years. This unwanted gym will go to GLL along with the whole building for an undisclosed peppercorn rent. Originally £3 million was allocated for these GLL gyms now it might be even more.

As you would expect these library closure plans have caused uproar in the local community and within the local LPs. Some LP members have resigned, others are considering it. These closures come right in the middle of Sadiq Khan’s campaign to try and re-take the GLA from the Conservatives. Along with the Labour council’s decisions to demolish two local council estates at the end of March one could almost believe our local Labour council was trying to sabotage the GLA elections.

We would like you to intervene in this matter and show your support for the library campaigners in Lambeth and for the occupiers who are trying to save their library from closure as part of the growing anti-austerity struggle against cuts and closures. We support your idea of Labour becoming an anti austerity party and the struggle in Lambeth should be seen in that light even though it is a Labour council wielding the axe in an arbitrary and unpopular manner. One of our local Labour MPs Kate Hoey has already done this and we hope others will follow.

We have a candlelight vigil every night outside the library at 188 Herne Hill Road and you are welcome to attend, as you have attended lobbies against the cuts many times in the past. Will will be holding a demonstration on Saturday

9th April and the occupiers and supporters of the libraries are all expressing a desire that you come and show your support for us. We await your reply with anticipation.

Carnegie Library Occupiers

Reply to: