Council leader Peck hits back at library claims

Lib Peck addresses libraries campaigners at a council meeting last November
Lib Peck addresses libraries campaigners at a council meeting last November

Lambeth council leader Lib Peck has hit back at library campaigners who accused the council of wasting thousands of pounds on security for the closed Carnegie (Herne Hill) and Minet (Myatt’s Fields) libraries.

Laura Swaffield of Friends of Lambeth Libraries had emailed Lambeth councillors urging them to call a halt to the council’s plans for its libraries.

These include re-opening the Carnegie and Minet as “healthy living centres” run by council leisure provider GLL with gyms and books, but no full-time librarians.

Peck accused protesters who brought a full council meeting to a halt last week of having no intention of allowing the meeting to go ahead and interrupting “quite shamefully” tributes to Cllr Niranjan Francis, a council member who died in April.

Abandonment of the meeting, she said, meant it had not been possible to discuss future funding of schools and parks.

Peck said she had met Swaffield and other protesters on several occasions and that it was “unfortunate therefore that you continue to feel the need to disrupt the democratic process while claiming we have not listened to you”.

Peck laid out again the reasoning behind the council’s library plans and accused the campaigners of making claims that are “simply not correct”.

In particular, Peck said, the campaigners had made errors in their calculations – claiming in the letter to councillors that 369,000 minus 89,000 was 189,000, when it is actually 280,000.

She went on: “You continue to use that miscalculated figure throughout – I think that says a lot about the accuracy of your claims and your willingness to throw around any figure, no matter how true, to make your case.”

Read Peck’s letter and the campaigners’ email. [PDF downloads]


  1. What a laugh! Cllr Peck arguing that numbers are not accurate. I wish she would look at Lambeth’s own numbers before throwing stones. How many times have Cressingham Gardens residents proven that the council’s numbers were wrong? And frequently out by millions!

  2. Ms Peck does rather adopt a foolish position when chairing meetings, attempting to silence public comment by implying that it’s caused by a rabble trying to prevent democracy taking place, when her own actions, and the actions of the councillors she “leads” actively require Lambeth residents to use such fora to voice dissent – we have little other choice given that “consultation” tends to mean one thing to the electorate, and another to these mostly-Progress-inclined ideologues!

  3. Whether its £280K savings or £189K savings – either way this is far from an “£800K saving” and many would say not worth making, even if achievable (which looks doubtful now with plans in such disarray) at the cost of destruction of a much used statutory service (and Lambeth Libraries had been very near the top of national league tables for improving service KPI metrics i recent years, pioneering provision of library services in a rapidly evolving info age world – see Carnegie Trust UK: Speaking Volumes).

    But whether this is a genuine arithmetical error, or a misunderstanding, (this is a memo, not a consultation document) the gist of the argument is reasonable and not answered by the Council Leader, who is certainly making a hash of inadequately consulted reforms. How much more misleading rather is the “56% cuts” which is on the lips of every Councillor Lambeth to the exclusion of any other thought? “56%” of what? Government funding, not the overall budget. And what else is elided by this headline reduction of what is a very complicated funding package? A very crude and patronising way of ending all discussion.

    A global funding discussion has been foreclosed from proper scrutiny. Many would seek to challenge the appearance of vanity projects and inflated uplifts for Councillor officers before sacrificing a modest but outstandingly effective front-line community service.

  4. Also, a security guard costing “estimate: £10,000 per month per guard” … ?

  5. I presume that Lib peck still hasn’t bothered to consult the alternative proposal drawn up by susanna Barnes, the head of Lambeth library services. It will save money and keep the libraries open. It’s a model successfully implemented at York library. The woman’s disdain for democracy and what the people want beggars belief.

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