Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Further Reports of a Downgraded Library Service

Depressing reports continue to come in from the public, regarding the handing over of Torridon Road and Forest Hill library to private enterprise, the abandonment of Manor House Library and poor staffing levels at Catford Library.

"Shelving trolley was piled high with books all over the floor on Tuesday morning. Library staff did turn up and shelve them today, however children's library looked like a bomb had hit it. Female security guard stepped in to the breach and has been running the weekly Baby Bounce sessions as up to 20 parents turned up as usual expecting a session. This is beyond what she is expected or paid to do. No printing - whilst I was there 3 people asked and were told they had to go to Lewisham. No collection of reservations - people have to go to Lewisham to collect any. No newspapers - security guards are picking up free copies of the Metro and making them available but no other papers available. No library staff there on Saturday - the busiest day. Self service terminal broke down. Security guard made a note on paper of returned books..."Manor House Library User

People report not being able to print documents - an essential service for some - at both Catford Library and Manor House Library.

Library users also report that Forest Hill Library opened two hours late on Saturday - is this the reliable library service we were lead to believe would be delivered by V22?

The campaign invites more library users to comment on these latest developments to our local libraries.

If you want to protest at the downgrading of Lewisham's Library Service, write to your councilor and the Mayor who approved this and join us on the national march this Saturday. Lewisham campaigners will meet up at Pret A Manger on the corner of Mabledon Place/Euston Road at noon.

Libraries, Museums & Galleries Demonstration

12noon Saturday 5th November, 2016

Meet in the car park behind the British Library, Euston Road.

March to House of Commons for a rally.

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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.