Sunday, 24 July 2016

A Spirited Solidarity March

Our library workers and campaigners joined a massive march through Bromley Centre on Saturday to protest against the devestating cuts to Bromley public services, including their libraries.  Bromley library workers have been out on strike this week. We march in solidarity...


Saturday, 23 July 2016

Lobby of Full Council

A vocal lobby of the full council on Wednesday evening.



Library users asked probing questions during the meeting. But the councillors rubber-stamped the Mayor and Cabinet's decision to hand over some of our libraries to private enterprises - even though the plans are shambolic and not what the public want.

The fight for our libraries continues...

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Defiant Strike and Picket Line

Library workers are on strike today.

The picket lines were supported by Lewisham Library campaigners, raising awareness and collecting signatures for our petition.




Don't miss the important lobby of the Full Council at Catford Town Hall tonight! Meet 6.30pm for 7.30pm Council meeting, when library plans will be discussed and voted on by Councillors.



Monday, 18 July 2016

Press release

----------------------------

Lewisham's library workers will be on strike this Wednesday 20th July and there will be a public lobby outside Catford's Civic Suite at 6:30pm for the Full Council Meeting in which bids for the future of Torridon Road, Manor House, Forest Hill and Catford libraries will be decided.


Council officers have announced that an artist studio company called V22 and two community interest groups are their preferred bids. V22 have bid for Forest Hill Library alongside the Forest Hill Society and a bid has been taken to run Torridon Road Library by a group which has not yet been officially formed. Plans for Catford library and Manor House are unclear, although it is expected that staff will be stretched from the three remaining council-run libraries to cover these with reduced opening hours.
The officers claim that 'good progress has been made' despite having been unable to find community groups to run all four threatened libraries as was promised during a public consultation, a plan which faced a massive opposition and spurred hundreds of people to march from Lewisham to Catford Town Hall in May.
On Wednesday, Councillors and Mayor Steve Bullock will decide if giving public libraries and the literacy and education of its future generations to private interests and precarious, untrained community groups is good progress, or if there is a case for rescuing Lewisham's Library Service during a time of upheaval and dire need.
A growing number of library workers and campaigners continue to fight for libraries as the havens of calm and doorways to learning and opportunity which communities in Lewisham demand.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Leading Artists and Academics Oppose Lewisham Council's plans for Libraries

Leading artists, including a Turner Prize winner, and academics who have taught in Lewisham have lent their voices to the growing campaign that opposes Lewisham Council's plans for our libraries. They outline their concerns in a letter to Councillors and Mayor:


To Lewisham Councillors and Mayor Sir Steve Bullock,

As academics, artists and philosophers who have taught in the borough of Lewisham we write to urge you to reverse the £1m cut from the Library Services budget.

From twelve libraries in 2010, Lewisham council will soon reduce staffed library numbers to three.

We wish to add our voices to the residents, parents and teachers campaigning to secure the literacy, education and freedom of opportunity of future generations in the provision of library services.

Public libraries are needed to provide access to a shared, living culture. Without the grounding provided there, free of private interests, the prospects of Lewisham's coming thinkers and creators will be shortened.

If free access to local culture is withdrawn from aspiring individuals and young families and passed into the hands of the few or those who are themselves precariously positioned, it will surely face stagnation as a result.

From the emancipating student movements and music of the 1960s to the art movements of the 90s and beyond, creativity and positive change in Lewisham has had a national and international impact beginning in its community.

Professionally staffed libraries and the support to local education and culture that they provide are a part of maintaining that effect.

We call on the council to reconsider their plans and use the reserves it has to keep Manor House, Catford, Torridon Road and Forest Hill libraries open for all.

We call on private interests bidding for these public spaces to consider the consequences such action will have on the local community.

Signed by,

Simon Bedwell
Reader in Fine Art
Department of Art
Goldsmiths

Bonnie Camplin
Lecturer In Fine Art/ Art
Department of Art
Goldsmiths

Dr. Catherine Grant
Lecturer, Critical Studies,
Department of Art

Associate Lecturer,
Department of Visual Cultures
Goldsmiths

Phillip Lai
Senior Lecturer in Art
Department of Art
Goldsmiths

Professor Michael Newman
Professor of Art Writing
Department of Art
Goldsmiths
University of London in Europe

Gail Pickering
Reader in Fine Art
Department of Art
Goldsmiths

Dr. Elizabeth Price
Associate Professor in Art
Oxford University
Turner Prize-winning artist

Helena Reckitt
Senior Lecturer in Curating
Department of Art
Goldsmiths, University of London

Professor Stella Sanford
Head of Department and Professor of Modern European Philosophy
Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy
Kingston University

Dr. Gilda Williams
Reader,
MFA Curating,
Goldsmiths College
 


Save Lewisham Libraries campaign says No More Austerity - Not To Racism

Some great pictures from the No More Austerity - No To Racism march through London on Saturday 16th July.

Lewisham library workers and campaigners marched alongside many groups including Lambeth's Carnegie Library occupiers and Defend the Ten campaign.

The march culminated with a rally in Parliament Square and inspirational speakers such as Shakira Martin, NUS Vice President (Further Education) who is from Brockley - and gives her support to our campaign.






Thursday, 14 July 2016

A Passionate Lobby





Our lobby of the Mayor and Cabinet meeting was attended by some passionate supporters. Thanks to all who braved the downpours to come and show opposition to the council's cuts. No ifs, no buts! No more Library cuts!

Join us this Saturday at the No to Austerity, No to Racism demo. 12pm BBC Broadcasting House, Portland Place W1A 1AA

Let's make our next Lobby of the Full Council meeting on Wed 20th July massive. Meet 6.30pm outside the Civic Suite, Catford SE6 4RU.




Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Lobby of Mayor & Cabinet 13 July 2016


Join our lobby of Mayor and Cabinet 

4.30pm 13 July 2016

Meet: Outside Civic Suite

Town Hall, Catford SE6 4RU

An important opportunity to protest against the Council's shambolic plans to turn over our libraries to third parties. The Mayor and Cabinet will be making decisions about tenders for Lewisham Libraries at this meeting. Make your voice heard. Bring placards and whistles and drums!



Monday, 11 July 2016

People's Day

Hundreds of visitors to People's Day expressed their support for libraries, signed the petition and took away stickers and flyers to distribute.  Several organisations - People's Assembly, People Before Profit, CND and Stop the War Coalition - helped to spread word of the campaign with flyers and t-shirts on their stalls. A great day, building for the lobbies on the 13th and 20th July.

Thanks to everyone for your fabulous support!










Thursday, 7 July 2016

Join Us at People's Day



Save Lewisham Library campaigners will be leafleting People’s Day this Saturday to oppose the council’s plans to turn libraries over to private interests and volunteer organisations and get rid of £1m worth of trained staff. This plan is being run despite concerted opposition from the public during last year’s consultation and a 500-strong march in May.




Campaigners will have Save Lewisham Libraries t-shirts, stickers and leaflets, supporting ‘Free books. Free Space. Free Minds.’ The Literacy Trust has said that children who use public libraries are twice as likely to read at home, and a child’s literacy level is more likely to influence their career in the future than economic factors.



Saturday’s action is to raise awareness for Save Lewisham Libraries’ lobbies of the council on the 13th and 20th of July, and follows a strike on Tuesday which shut three of the threatened libraries for the day. Strikers took action alongside library workers from Greenwich and teachers nationwide, joining the march in Central London.

Questions have already been submitted to ask if Councillors agree with council officers that ‘good progress has been made’ when their original plans to have four volunteer libraries now include a bid from a community interest company that doesn’t even exist and a London-wide artists' studio company to be given free use Forest Hill Library in exchange for an uncertain volunteer service.

Manor House and Catford Library are now to be staffed by a reduced skeleton crew of trained library staff who were initially only recruited to give added support to volunteers. As no suitable organisation could be found for Manor House Library, those Lewisham Libraries workers who have kept their jobs will be stretched even more.

Councillors’ political reputations will be measured on these results, despite it being unelected officers making the improvised and worrying changes.

Celebrate People’s Day by helping protect to your libraries and the unity in our community.

If you can help please contact Save Lewisham Libraries on Facebook or email savelewishamlibraries@gmail.com

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Library Workers & Teachers Strike

Striking library workers in Lewisham closed three of our libraries under threat - Manor House, Torridon Road and Forest Hill libraries – to protest at staff redundancies.

 
Thank you to South East London People's Assembly, Bursary or Bust, and students from Goldsmiths University who supported the strike at Lewisham Library. 
 

Lewisham library workers and library campaigners with 10,000 teachers outside Parliament.
Changes to libraries and schools are damaging our children's education - we stand with all the teachers fighting to defend it.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Library Workers Strike 5th July

Library workers are striking to raise awareness of the continuing threat that libraries of Lewisham face and the people who depend upon them – unless the council reverses its £1m cuts to library services.

The cut will mean Torridon Road Library, Forest Hill Library, Catford Library and Manor House Libraries close, bringing the number of libraries down to three from 12 in 2010.

With political parties in turmoil, it is crucial that people have access to a public institution that represents their personal histories, a breadth of cultures and the idea of shared understanding within a community. For this reason too, it is also vital that people stand up together to protect their jobs and the services which require them.

Since strike action in May when library workers, residents and campaigners joined forces to form a 500-strong march to Catford Civic Suite, the Council has fallen short of its timetabled response to workers and left them with a still uncertain future. Whilst workers face uncertainty, so too do libraries, as unelected council officers promote bids from private interests in the form of an artist’s studio company (V22) and a community interest company which has not yet been properly formed.

In Lewisham Life magazine, residents were told Library cuts would save them money, but officers have agreed the maintenance costs of library buildings would be covered by the council. Council officers have not delivered what councillors voted for but are plowing ahead, all against the will of the public who said no to more library cuts and more volunteer libraries.

Tuesday's strike will be in solidarity with Greenwich library workers who are striking to save their mobile library. We stand in solidarity with teachers who will hold a national strike on the same day. The strike will help to build momentum for the vital lobby of Lewisham council on 13th July.

For more information about the Council's apology for a plan:

http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/documents/s44277/03_SSCSC_LibrariesSavingsProgrammeUpdate_04072016.pdf

Restore Our Library Service

Lewisham's libraries are a well loved and much used service, especially depended on by children.

It is upsetting then, that our libraries have been put through the wringer, and to show for it, issue numbers have fallen more than almost anywhere else in the country in the last five years. Lewisham Council has executed on its misbeggoten decision to cut £1 million from the budget, making most staff redundant whilst outsourcing operations to social enterprises and charities on decades long leases and contracts. And disgustingly, council advances this as an innovative 'opportunity'. It has also been pushing the money under the rug, as outsourced groups who run into cash flow problems are given large council grants, and this is now par for the course.

The Council removed staff from 4 of our libraries in 2016:

Catford, Forest Hill, Manor House and Torridon Road.

Despite the massive public opposition and the first council staff strikes here in decades, they pushed the changes through. This is not forgotten or over. This must be rectified.

Unison was right to believe that the implementation of the scheme would mean:

  • Professional staff will not be available in these libraries
  • Opening times will be reduced
  • If there are not enough volunteers, then libraries will close
  • Library usage and services to the community will be reduced
  • Vulnerable users won’t be able to access library services

They can no longer rightly be called libraries but pale imitations, community centres, thinly veiled property development operations that make a show of meeting a few basic library service functions and relying on volunteers. They stretch the remaining council staff dangerously thin, perhaps popping in to Pepys library once a week to mourn the chaos. Having made these idiotic redundancies so drastically management have had to take on agency staff. They've even trained up at cost new staff, who have handed in their resignation finding the conditions intolerable.

It has left us left three "hub" libraries still very basically council staffed, Lewisham, Deptford Lounge and Downham. Catford often has nobody but the security guards that work in the building, you can't print and can never expect to be able to print, and it is unsafe and unreliable.

In a borough this size it no longer meets our statutory right to a local, accessible, convenient library service.

These hub libraries are under threat of more unsubtle restructures by Bullock and head of the service Anthonio 'they changed my title so I'd have no chance of being sued' Rizzo. We campaign by all our legitimate means, from our right to public assembly, to arguing in surgeries and consultations, to looking into the published books of tender candidates to see what the council turns a blind eye to.

We have perhaps decreased the damange and slowed it down, but council generally has its head in the sand, and the tory government that goes without saying.

In this misinformation, privatisation age libraries are for their users desperately important.

Save Lewisham Libraries urges you to FIGHT FOR LIBRARIES!

Please sign our petition, come to our meetings and developing protests and get involved.