William Eichler 01 April 2016

Protesters take over London library to halt closure

Protesters have occupied a library in south London in a bid to prevent it from being shut down temporarily.

The Carnegie Library at Loughborough Junction will be closed for a year and converted into a neighbourhood library service with fitness facilities.

A spokesperson for the protesters, a group of 80 people called Friends of Lambeth Libraries, told the BBC they planned to stay where they were.

‘Some of us have sleeping bags and we intend to stay for as long as possible,’ Laura Swaffield said.

Government cuts meant Lambeth Council had to find £200m of savings between April 2010 and March 2016.

This has led to less being spent on cultural services, such as libraries.

Cllr Jane Edbrooke, cabinet member for neighbourhoods, said last October: ‘There’s no way we can avoid [Government cuts] having an impact. It means we have to change the way we do things.

‘In the case of cultural services that means spending £4m less by 2018 on cultural services, which includes libraries, parks, the arts and sports.’

Carnegie and Minet libraries will both be closed today and re-opened in 2017 alongside health and fitness facilities run by Greenwich Leisure Limited.

The latter’s archives will remain open to the public.

A spokesperson for the council said: ‘These protesters are misleading residents and the public – Carnegie Library is not closing for good and we are one of the few areas of the country that has found a way to maintain a library service in all our current locations.

‘It is unfortunate that a small number of people have decided to be obstructive, especially as Lambeth council has worked incredibly hard to minimise the impact of the cuts on Lambeth libraries.’

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