One in five use Lewisham libraries but cuts still loom


One in five people living in Lewisham use the borough’s 11 libraries, five of which are set to close within the next few months.

East London Lines has learned this week that there were 52,788 active library borrowers in 2010.

The figure, obtained from Lewisham Council through a Freedom of Information request, represents around 20 per cent of Lewisham’s population. With nearly half of the borough’s library service being cut, tens of thousands of users are likely to be affected.

Some of the most popular libraries in the borough have been earmarked for termination.

Services in Crofton Park and Blackheath both issued over 60,000 items last year, but both will most likely close in May, along with New Cross, Sydenham and Grove Park libraries.

On Tuesday, the fate of Lewisham 5 will be decided, when the council casts its final vote on what public services, including libraries, will be cut.

Green Party councillor for Brockley, Darren Johnson has strongly condemned the threatened cuts to public services.

“Closing of the Amersham Early Years Centre in New Cross, axing libraries and withdrawing funding from Connexions will do further harm to the prospects of children and young people in a borough which already has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in the country,” said Cllr Johnson.

“I hate the way this Government is slashing funding. But I just don’t think the Mayor and Labour councilors are putting enough effort into finding savings that don’t harm services,” he added.

A number of local community groups have come forward offering to take over the five library sites threatened with closure, following a drive by Mayor Sir Steve Bullock that began in December of last year.

Bids have been received from Christ Family Assembly Outreach, Eco Computer Systems and The Peckham Settlement, among others. The council is expected to comment on the status of these bids during Tuesday’s meeting.

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