Libraries, Cressingham campaigners join forces

Libraries protesters in Brixton
Libraries protesters in Brixton earlier this month

Opponents of two controversial Lambeth council plans to deal with massive government cuts to its funding will join forces today (21 March) to protest outside a meeting of the council cabinet.

The demolition of the Cressingham Gardens housing estate for regeneration and the decision to turn two of the council’s ten libraries in to gyms are the target of their anger.

The meeting, at Lilian Baylis school in Vauxhall at 7.30 pm, is due to approve the Cressingham Gardens plan [download].


Mayor candidate ‘ambushed’
Laura Swaffield of Friends of Lambeth Libraries confronts Labour mayor candidate Sadiq Khan
Laura Swaffield of Friends of Lambeth Libraries confronts Labour mayor candidate Sadiq Khan. Picture: Peter Lewin

Opponents of the council’s libraries plan “ambushed” Labour’s London mayor candidate, Sadiq Khan, at the weekend when he was out campaigning with Lambeth councillor Florence Eshalomi, who is standing for the London assembly to represent Lambeth and Southwark.

Along with Camberwell and Peckham MP Harriet Harman, they were visiting Camberwell library in Southwark.

Opponents of Lambeth council plans for its libraries say that Labour-controlled Southwark is investing in libraries as a core public service.

But, said Laura Swaffield, chair of Friends of Lambeth Libraries (FOLL), Lambeth council, with a huge Labour majority, was “spending millions on destroying them”.

“It’s sad to rain on Sadiq’s parade,” she said. “But we have no choice. Lambeth Labour is letting him down badly.

“FOLL is strictly non-political, but many Friends members are Labour supporters. Sadiq’s manifesto supports libraries. He needs to get the message that Lambeth is killing Labour votes”.

Harriet Harman and Sadiq Khan campaign
Harriet Harman and Sadiq Khan campaign.
Picture: Peter Lewin
Council defends consultation

Lambeth council has defended its conduct of the Cressingham Gardens consultation and its rejection of the “People’s Plan” for the estate.

A spokesman said that the demolition “option 5” was presented to Cressingham residents as the council’s preferred plan at an exhibition on 25 February and all residents had been invited by letter to comment on this.

Their comments, along with all feedback received during the resumed consultation, had been included in the cabinet report, including the People’s Plan.

Rejecting claims that the plan had been turned down only a few days after it had been seen by the council, the spokesman said consideration of the People’s Plan was based on a presentation of it by a resident at a workshop on 26 January and that a summary of the report was submitted to the consultation on 19 February. He said the full plan, which had also been considered, did not add significantly to the information already received.

He urged people concerned about the plans to find out more about the council’s Homes for Lambeth  and the new assured tenancies it will use.

He said the council had published detailed information on the viability of all the options and was confident that option 5 was viable.

It would provide at least 158 extra homes, 47% of which would be “affordable”, including at least 27 extra family-sized homes at council rent.

Some homes for private rent or sale would be built to help pay for the rebuilding of the estate at a time when there is no government money for new social housing.

He said that if the cabinet backed option 5 its viability would continue to be assessed as the project developed.

He also denied outright claims made in a comment on brixtonblog’s report of the council plans that councillors and officers “privately admit” that regeneration by the council would not give 1,000 extra “council rent” homes by 2018/19, even if new homes in the Somerleyton Road redevelopment were included.


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