30 January 2015

New cultural services consultation launched in Lambeth

The council has today launched a new consultation on the future of cultural services in Lambeth, an area that includes parks, sports facilities and libraries. The council is looking for residents views on how the borough takes forward these important services in an era of steep central government cuts by the Lib Dem-Tory coalition.

The context

Lambeth's budget has been slashed by 50% since 2010 which means between the start of the decade and 2018, Lambeth will have had its resources reduced by £200 million. At present we currently spend more than half of our budget on services for vulnerable people, including older and disabled people as well as those suffering with mental health issues. This does mean that with the scale of these cuts we do have to make some tough choices. In cultural services, the council needs to reduce its library budget by £1 million and its wider cultural services budget by £4 million.

What are the proposals for cultural services in the future across Lambeth?

Despite the unprecedented nature of the cuts, the council is keen to ensure that residents are involved in helping to shape the future of cultural services by consulting on its proposals for these services.

Proposals for parks and other areas can be found in Lambeth's handbook that gives an overview of the cooperative parks model and other proposals.

On libraries, the council is proposing:
  • 5 town centre libraries where we'll work with volunteers to extend opening hours
  • Those town centre libraries supporting a wider Network of community lending libraries in community settings - like the successful one in Streatham Vale. 
  • Community libraries like Carnegie potentially becoming community hubs - including community library provision.

Cabinet Member for Cultural services, Jane Edbrooke, commenting on these proposals says:

"We’ll have to make some tough decisions too. Some smaller libraries simply won’t be able to continue. This isn't easy, but I think that by 2020 we will have more places to borrow books, town centre libraries with longer than ever opening hours and importantly, more people reading than ever in Lambeth."

What does this means for Vassall?

The key proposal for Vassall relates to the Minet library, which has a similar proposal as the Waterloo library. An extract from the consultation documents outlines the current proposal:

"We are proposing to decommission Waterloo Library and Minet Library services during 2015 and sell them by 2016 on the open market. This means the revenue budgets for library services currently provided by the council at Waterloo Library and Minet Library sites will stop but the money raised from the sale of these sites will help facilitate investment into the endowment for the Lambeth Community Library Fund.

By utilising money from private sector developers, we are proposing to establish a one off Lambeth Library Challenge Fund during 2016 and 2017 specifically for Bishops and Vassall Wards. This fund will be open for charitable trusts and social enterprises to bid for funding to establish a community library offer, for example the fund could purchase equipment that will support self-service technologies, capital costs of creating a fit-for- purpose space, volunteer programmes and
peer-to-peer support networks.

We are also proposing that these charitable trusts and social enterprises will also be able to apply for revenue funding from the Lambeth Community Library Fund or ask for support from a town centre library."

Given these proposals, it is vital that as many residents as possible fill in this consultation, which can be found here.

Local councillors will be seeking the views of residents as well and are intending to meet key local community groups in the next few weeks to get their opinions on these ideas. If you have any thoughts please do send them through to your local councillors as well, at the addresses provided opposite.