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Waterloo Library: little enthusiasm for volunteer-run service

Leigh Hatts

More than 50 people took part in a consultation workshop hosted by Lambeth Council at Waterloo Action Centre on Tuesday to discuss cuts to libraries and cultural services in the borough.

Waterloo Library: little enthusiasm for volunteer-run service

An extra table had to be brought in for the group discussion as the number rose.

The council is suggesting selling Waterloo Library and replacing it with a community library run by a social enterprise or charity using volunteers.

Lambeth cabinet member for neighbourhoods Cllr Jane Edbrooke, who recently faced a hostile audience at the South Bank Forum, was heard in silence as she outlined possible changes to library provision in Waterloo.

"Like you I hate these cuts," said Cllr Edbrooke in her five minute address. "I don't want to be making them."

In outlining the pressure from central government she added: "I wish the national government would see the impact these short sighted cuts will have on our local community."

Cllr Edbrooke said that Lambeth 'town centre' libraries were packed and highlighted a promised 10 million endowment fund which could benefit Waterloo.

"We have to be honest about what we can afford," she concluded.

However, during the round table discussions there was strong opposition to a new Waterloo library being run by volunteers. Working people lacked time and were not experienced to so without professional leadership, said a resident from The Cut.

One table voted to maintain the council's direct control rather than outsource the service.

In the closing session concern was expressed about the endowment fund being sufficient and the difficulty of launching a community library, which had to be part of the statutory service, by next year.

Another suggestion was to cooperate with Southwark Council where no libraries have been shut despite the coalition cuts.

There were several calls for an exploration of any gains available from the many private developments.

The Culture 2020 consultation continues until Friday 24 April.

Lambeth Council is expected to announce its final proposals at the end of July.

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