Socialist Worker

Carnegie library in Lambeth is occupied to stop closure

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2498

Demonstrating outside the library before the occupation began

Demonstrating outside the library before the occupation began (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Dozens of local residents, library users and campaigners against Lambeth Labour council's cuts have occupied Carnegie Library in south London today, Thursday. They are determined to stop its closure.

They refused to leave the building after it was due to close its doors for the last time at 6pm this evening.

Library campaigner Micky said, "We're defending the ten libraries in Lambeth by fighting to save Carnegie. We want to shine a light on these disgusting plans to steal our libraries. Shame on Lambeth Labour - nobody agrees with what you're doing."

Library railings outside are draped with banners, including the Unison union, Dulwich and West Norwood Labour Party and a host of library campaigns. The ground has been chalked with messages. One simply said, "We will never vote Labour again."

Despite widespread opposition, and even alternative funding plans presented to them by a senior council employee in charge of libraries that would keep all ten Lambeth libraries open, Labour refuses to deviate from its plan.

Nearly 200 people joined a farewell party inside the library. Jeff from Friends of Carnegie Library spoke. He said, "They see this building as a piece of real estate. We see it as a public service. They won't save a penny by closing the library - it's criminal. We're not giving up."

Micky agreed, "Not only are they not saving money but they say they're spending millions to redevelop the buildings."

Private firm Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) stands to benefit as it is in line to run new planned gyms at Carnegie and Minet libraries, which are both to close.

But campaigners have raised many concerns about councillors' motives.

"I'm surprised more people haven't questioned the links between councillor Jane Edbrooke and GLL," said Lottie Davies, a local resident. "This is about something else than just closing libraries. I'm sitting in because this is my library and I don't want it to close. The library is the heart of this neighbourhood."

Send the occupiers a message of solidarity to [email protected]

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