Thursday, 7 July 2016

Join Us at People's Day

Save Lewisham Library campaigners will be leafleting People’s Day this Saturday to oppose the council’s plans to turn libraries over to private interests and volunteer organisations and get rid of £1m worth of trained staff. This plan is being run despite concerted opposition from the public during last year’s consultation and a 500-strong march in May.

Campaigners will have Save Lewisham Libraries t-shirts, stickers and leaflets, supporting ‘Free books. Free Space. Free Minds.’ The Literacy Trust has said that children who use public libraries are twice as likely to read at home, and a child’s literacy level is more likely to influence their career in the future than economic factors.

Saturday’s action is to raise awareness for Save Lewisham Libraries’ lobbies of the council on the 13th and 20th of July, and follows a strike on Tuesday which shut three of the threatened libraries for the day. Strikers took action alongside library workers from Greenwich and teachers nationwide, joining the march in Central London.

Questions have already been submitted to ask if Councillors agree with council officers that ‘good progress has been made’ when their original plans to have four volunteer libraries now include a bid from a community interest company that doesn’t even exist and a London-wide artists' studio company to be given free use Forest Hill Library in exchange for an uncertain volunteer service.

Manor House and Catford Library are now to be staffed by a reduced skeleton crew of trained library staff who were initially only recruited to give added support to volunteers. As no suitable organisation could be found for Manor House Library, those Lewisham Libraries workers who have kept their jobs will be stretched even more.

Councillors’ political reputations will be measured on these results, despite it being unelected officers making the improvised and worrying changes.

Celebrate People’s Day by helping protect to your libraries and the unity in our community.

If you can help please contact Save Lewisham Libraries on Facebook or email

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Restore Our Library Service

Lewisham's libraries are a well loved and much used service, especially depended on by children.

It is upsetting then, that our libraries have been put through the wringer, and to show for it, issue numbers have fallen more than almost anywhere else in the country in the last five years. Lewisham Council has executed on its misbeggoten decision to cut £1 million from the budget, making most staff redundant whilst outsourcing operations to social enterprises and charities on decades long leases and contracts. And disgustingly, council advances this as an innovative 'opportunity'. It has also been pushing the money under the rug, as outsourced groups who run into cash flow problems are given large council grants, and this is now par for the course.

The Council removed staff from 4 of our libraries in 2016:

Catford, Forest Hill, Manor House and Torridon Road.

Despite the massive public opposition and the first council staff strikes here in decades, they pushed the changes through. This is not forgotten or over. This must be rectified.

Unison was right to believe that the implementation of the scheme would mean:

  • Professional staff will not be available in these libraries
  • Opening times will be reduced
  • If there are not enough volunteers, then libraries will close
  • Library usage and services to the community will be reduced
  • Vulnerable users won’t be able to access library services

They can no longer rightly be called libraries but pale imitations, community centres, thinly veiled property development operations that make a show of meeting a few basic library service functions and relying on volunteers. They stretch the remaining council staff dangerously thin, perhaps popping in to Pepys library once a week to mourn the chaos. Having made these idiotic redundancies so drastically management have had to take on agency staff. They've even trained up at cost new staff, who have handed in their resignation finding the conditions intolerable.

It has left us left three "hub" libraries still very basically council staffed, Lewisham, Deptford Lounge and Downham. Catford often has nobody but the security guards that work in the building, you can't print and can never expect to be able to print, and it is unsafe and unreliable.

In a borough this size it no longer meets our statutory right to a local, accessible, convenient library service.

These hub libraries are under threat of more unsubtle restructures by Bullock and head of the service Anthonio 'they changed my title so I'd have no chance of being sued' Rizzo. We campaign by all our legitimate means, from our right to public assembly, to arguing in surgeries and consultations, to looking into the published books of tender candidates to see what the council turns a blind eye to.

We have perhaps decreased the damange and slowed it down, but council generally has its head in the sand, and the tory government that goes without saying.

In this misinformation, privatisation age libraries are for their users desperately important.

Save Lewisham Libraries urges you to FIGHT FOR LIBRARIES!

Please sign our petition, come to our meetings and developing protests and get involved.