21 February 2015

Cultural services consultation: What do you want from cultural services in your area?

Vassall's three Labour councillors have in a letter published in the South London Press urged residents to give their views on the future of cultural services in their area as part of Lambeth's new consultation.

As Vassall View reported at the end of January, the borough has launched the review following deep cuts by the government that have slashed Lambeth's budget in half since 2010. The council is now asking for feedback on a series of proposals, including around the Minet library, aimed at maintaining good quality services while making savings.

The letter can be read in full below. If you want to give your opinions please have a look at the handbook that accompanies this consultation and send in your views here. You can also send in your ideas to your local councillors. 

Dear Sir/Madam,

Letter for publication

As councillors in one of the most diverse yet also deprived wards in Lambeth, we understand the strength of feeling there is about library services that was highlighted by the Minet vigil (Candelight Campaign, Friday, 13 February)

Sadly, Lambeth has seen its budget slashed in half by the Tory-Lib Dem government, with an expected £200 million cut by 2018. These devastating cuts mean we have to make some difficult decisions and try to find new ways of delivering services.

As councillors we have worked hard to ensure that in these proposals there would continue to be library provision in Vassall, but given the cuts they do have to be financially viable. On the Minet, the council’s proposal is to sell the building to provide money for a fund that will be open to community groups and others to use to deliver a local library service. This has been suggested as the Minet has the lowest number of library visitors in Lambeth and many Vassall residents use other libraries, like Brixton. What an alternative local service will look like will be up to residents to help shape: it could involve a book lending service in a community centre with study spaces and digital facilities. GP practices, cafes, cinemas and even pubs have all been used for a variety of library services in the past.

This is currently a proposal and no decision has been made. The Minet Hub, who councillors have met twice in the past few weeks and who we invited to the town hall to meet the relevant Lambeth cabinet member, are working on their own plans. We are keen to hear from all members of the community as it is vital in our view that we a modern, accessible service that reaches out to every part of our community.

Whatever option is taken forward, we do need residents to tell us what they want from their local library service – so do get in touch with us if you have any ideas so that despite these government inflicted cuts we can continue to deliver the best possible service with the resources we have.

Yours faithfully

Cllrs Jacqui Dyer, Paul Gadsby and Annie Gallop