Campaign Meeting Thursday 26th May report and agreed actions
Our latest open campaign meeting received updates from library Friends groups and UNISON; Report-backs from the Lewisham march last Saturday, the Gypsy Hill by-election hustings on Monday, the council meeting last week, Lib Peck’s letter to campaigners and the start of a re-vitalised Friends group at Upper Norwood.
The scandal of spending more to guard closed libraries than to keep them running has now been exposed nationally by the Guardian (following their FOI request), the Independent and on ITV and BBC. Once again Lambeth Council is under the spotlight over its library cuts. It is now facing increased pressure from the weight of FOI requests as well as Members Enquiries from the Green Party, which continue to expose their ill-thought out and shambolic plans:
It appears the council are beginning a process of inviting bids for library buildings, the planning application for Carnegie is put back to September and will require listed building consent, there is no deal signed as yet with GLL, plans are not finalised… We face the prospect of both libraries being closed for a year at great expense. Meanwhile their plans for Waterloo library continue but with no fixed date for removal to Oasis without staff. Upper Norwood is due to lose its staff (apart from the 1 post) on 1st July. We noted that by 2018 the funding ends for Upper Norwood Library Trust, Oasis and the ‘regular librarian visits’ to the hubs.
Rachel Heywood, the only Labour Councillor to stand up for libraries, has finally heard from the Chief Whip following her disciplinary meeting and is facing the prospect of having the whip removed from her for 6 months as punishment for speaking out and daring to criticise Labour Group policies. A specially convened meeting of LG and the Labour Campaigns Forum on Wednesday evening is set to vote to impose this penalty. Our campaigners gave her our full support and are organising to be outside, as we were before, to give her our full support and to show the council that they can’t bully representatives out of standing up for the people who elect them.
We agreed we need to continue to build our campaign and increase the pressure. Our message is: We’re not going away. We’re standing strong!
The following actions were agreed:
- Support Rachel Heywood – Wednesday 1st June 7pm International House
- Open letter from campaign to Jeremy Corbyn and Labour party calling for support for Rachel Heywood– a Labour Councillor facing disciplinary action for standing with the community
- Call for Carnegie and Minet Libraries to be re-opened now, given both the cost of keeping them closed and the fact they have no plans in place for them
- Support regular events outside Minet and Carnegie libraries (Minet – Saturday 28th, Wednesdays on the steps at Carnegie)
- Keep tying the yellow ribbons
- Continue to write to GLL
- To write to National Audit office about the financing of the library plans and the lack of value for money, spending more to keep services closed than to continue running them
- Organise to lobby next full council meeting in July
- Draw up a new petition, this time expressing no confidence in Lib Peck and her cabinet
- Labour party members to continue to put motions to their wards to show support to Rachel Heywood and oppose the library plans
- Publicise the alternative plan for libraries which could save all 10 libraries, Head of Libraries, Susanna Barnes’ Staff and Community Mutual
- Next meeting – Thursday 9th June, Brixton library