Our press release in response to threatened Lewisham library cuts.
Save Lewisham Libraries statement - 18th February 2021
Lewisham’s plan to cut up to £500,000 from the library service budget is very bad news for people in Lewisham.
After lockdown more people than ever will need access to Lewisham Public Libraries for resources,literature, children’s books, computers, wifi, and the help library staff give them accessing library services, benefits, business loans, debt and housing advice - issues people will be struggling to cope with due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lewisham council is proposing that staffing in libraries be slashed by up to £500,000 (1, 2, & 3). In a crisis in which library workers have been designated as key workers,Lewisham residents should be asking what effects these proposed job cuts will have on opening hours,safety and access to our libraries.
These staffing cuts are likely to hit the poorest and most vulnerable groups hardest by falling onLewisham, Deptford, Catford and Downham libraries (the rest of Lewisham’s libraries are volunteer run as the council offloaded responsibility for staffing them in 2011 and 2016).
will be asking if these proposed cuts are a reheat of the disastrous
After protests, the
2018 plans were rejected by the council’s own committee, because
How will cuts of an
even greater amount, result in what one councillor describes as a
“new and greater
“non-traditional” model Lewisham has consistently been interested
in, is in replacing
It would be
patronising to the public to suggest that a new model could offer
Lewisham residents deserve a properly funded service run by paid professional library workers.What they don’t deserve is the managed decline of a hollowed out library service and loss of trained staff, disguised as ‘innovation’ and ‘transformation’.
If Lewisham council are serious about these things then discussion needs to be about long terminvestment and in depth consultation, which doesn’t just get wheeled out when budget cuts are on the table. Lewisham council has said that they will review the service and engage residents and library users soon, but they are running out of time for any meaningful public consultation.
The timetable for decisions on these proposals says that public consultation will be completed by March 2021 but that staff reorganisation will then begin in April 2021, with restructuring completed by August 2021.
For library users,
staff and unions to have any real impact on the formative stages of
this plan - a say in
The definition of a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service, which councils have a legal dutyto provide, continues to be stretched and tested in Lewisham.
council only funds staffing in 4 out of 13 libraries in the borough.
What do Lewisham
We believe that Lewisham’s libraries must be kept fully staffed, fully open, and that cuts must be resisted.
Libraries are vital
to recovery after COVID-19 but the proposed cuts seem to go against
Please support your
libraries, sign our petition, email your councillor, email your MP,
raise it in
Follow us on Facebook: @SaveLewishamLibraries
(1) News Shopper. “Lewisham libraries could be cut by £500K”. 13th January 2021.
(2) Lewisham Council. Scrutiny Committees Report: “Budget Cuts Report”. January 2021.
(3) Lewisham Council. “Cuts proposal template 2021/22”. January 2021.
(4) Save Lewisham Libraries. “The Unfeasible Study Rumbled! Demand better and take action”. 8th April 2019.
(5) News Shopper. “Lewisham libraries could offer more services after remodel”. 15th January 2021.
(6) Lewisham Council. Mayor and Cabinet Report: “Budget Cuts Report”. 3rd February 2021.