The South Shall Rise Again: Canada Water and Deptford Libraries

As the Sword of Damocles hangs over five Lewisham Libraries by a single hair from Mayor Bullock's beard, it's worth remembering that there are two major library projects planned for nearby. Like modern leisure centres, they are attempting to create destinations with the scale and flexibility to appeal to a wide range of users and the capacity to generate significant commercial income streams.

In Surrey Quays (top), the Canada Water regeneration scheme is progressing rapidly, and the library is in the advanced stages of construction. When complete in 2011, it will offer large reading areas for adults and children and a messy area for the under-fives. The gallery level will include classrooms and meeting rooms.

In Deptford (bottom), Lewisham Council's plans for the town centre include a new building for Tidemill School, incorporating The Deptford Lounge - "a new living room for the city". Plans were approved in 2009 and Lewisham Council promises that the finished building will offer:
  • A state of the art library including children’s and youth library
  • AccessPoint – one stop shop giving access to Council services
  • Flexible spaces to hire out for events such as weddings, conferences and celebrations
  • Flexible working spaces to hire out to the community voluntary sector and small starter businesses
  • CafĂ©
Also in the series:


Deptford dame said...

Although if Tidemill School decides to become an academy, the library building could belong to them, not to the council...

Anonymous said...

Bullock is playing a cynical political game with the libraries - he has no particular concern whether they close or stay open - but the decision is obviously causing deep rifts within the Lewisham labour party - witness Ruddock and Alexander (again, cynically) doing a turn on the Libraries march.

He has to keep all the Labour Councillors 'on side' until the budget is pushed through and he's had to put the libraries 'issue' on hold until then.

Any idea that he's listened to the residents of the borough, now, or at any other time, is nonsense.

Anonymous said...

I do get fed up with the phrase, "state of the art".

Other than 'new' what does it mean?

Would there be any point in building something that is not state of the art, for example having gas lighting.

Bridget McKenzie said...

Interesting this shift to 'destination libraries', places that serve a locality but are attractive enough for you to travel to (because invariably you won't have a basic local library to use instead). If you make a journey, you'll want cafe, networked working space & culture too. Incidentally, do you know any news on the other 'state of the art' major library planned for the New Cross Gate Centre, and indeed any news on the fate of that centre?

Matt-Z said...

What's happening to part of Wavelengths currently inhabited by the library? Mayoral sauna?

Anon @16.47: I'd love it if they installed paternoster lifts and pneumatic tubes instead of email.

Brockley Nick said...

@Bridget, you're dead right, that's exactly the thinking. I can see why some may not like the approach, but there are obviously economies of scale by building fewer, bigger facilities that can be better stocked and offer more bells and whistles.

Cllr Mike Harris said...

It's always anonymous sniping isn't it? If you had to write your name and address below posts, people would be a lot less conspiratorial.

Dear Anonymous,

45% of Lewisham's budget goes to protecting the vulnerable: on adult social care, older people, disabled people and children.

The coalition government, in its infinite wisdom has cut local government budgets by 29% across the board.

Labour want to protect the services we provide to those who are most vulnerable. Therefore, we have to find really significant savings in the less essential services we provide. This includes the library service.

No one, not Steve, not any Labour Councillor, nor Labour MPs, wants to close libraries.

But faced with our budget situation we need to think about how we deliver services and this means a greater involvement for the third sector.

Incidentally, of the 5 to "close", many will be retained with community organisations taking over the running of the libraries. Hopefully not a single area will lose its library - but again this depends on funding.

In "solidarity",

Cllr. Mike Harris

W Churchill said...

Like you put your address Cllr Mike Harris,maybe your headquarter address.

Brockley Nick said...

Oh come on, he's a Councillor, everyone knows how to reach him.

Matt-Z said...

Through the medium of expressive dance?

Deptford dame said...

@matt-z I think the idea is to create a bigger and better gym in what is now the Wavelengths library.

Anonymous said...

Surely the 'most vulnerable' would be the people who's need of libraries would be greater than many others?

Anonymous said...

Cllr. Harris,
But isn't this a demonstration of always sniping?

The coalition government, in its infinite wisdom has cut local government budgets by 29% across the board.

What was the alternative government going to do, cut nothing?

Alistair Darling announced in 2009 the cuts would be more than under Thatcher.

The decision to close libraries or not is down to our ELECTED Mayor, the same mayor who wrote a report on how Local government could cut spending and he was advising the cuts begin in March 2010.

One persons efficiency is an oppositions cut.

Within a few months of coming to power in 2002 the Mayor cut oops introduced efficiencies.

Every year since I think there have been reductions of around £3m a year.

At the request/demand of the
4 or 5 years ago three libraries were up for closure, at the same time the funding of two disabled
workers was under threat.

The libraries remained and a 'volunteers' scheme was introduced.

If I remember correctly the Mayor initially withdraw funding for the two disabled men but due to a campaign in the media by their family the funding was reinstated.

In other previous efficiencies officers warned the reduction in spending child care could be dangerous and it would be 2-3 years before it was known if the cut err saving had worked or.....not.

In July the Mayor boasted he had saved £26m over the past 3 years, how certain are you there were no cuts only efficiencies in that £26m?

The Mayor was already efficiently making almost £10m of cuts a year without a coalition government.

Anonymous said...

Oh forgot, regarding no councillor wants the closure of a library.

Can I remind him of Carl Handley's opinion on those campaigning to retain Ladywell Leisure Centre until the new one openned....

Most of the people who signed petitions opposing this don't even use the bloody pool.

Similar words have been expressed by another councillor regarding the campaign to save the libraries.

Anonymous said...

@ Matt-Z

Through the medium of expressive dance?

Now you are being silly, he means Derek Acorah.

Anonymous said...

How about cutting the Council costs, starting with the Councillors, Mayor and CEO salaries.

I bet you with the proper chopping at the Council we could keep the Libraries open.

After all what is more useful to the community, a library or a bunch of fat beared man sitting on their asses all day?

Anonymous said...

Could Cllr Harris,

Clarify how in 2009 the Mayor came up with the figure £60m for cuts a year before the government spending review?

That represents a cut to the council's total spend of 22%.

Unless there is to be a dramatic announcement the Mayor has not publicly budged from that £60m figure.

It was widely indicted under the previous government cuts would be at least 25%, followed by suggestions the cuts could as much as 40%.

It was said in council that Officers’ estimates of savings requirements have tended to be towards the pessimistic end.

So could Cllr Harris clarify if the officers list of cuts is geared to the original estimated 20%, the Mayor's 22%, the previous governments minimum of 25%, the actual 29% or the rumoured 40%?

Cllr Mike Harris said...

Anonymous -

The £26m worth of efficiency savings were making each £1 worth of expenditure go an extra 3% further. It wasn't cutting overall expenditure rather extending what we are doing: that is, increasing output.

So, for example, we are dealing with an increasing number of disabled children living longer. We are managing (at present) to make our budget go 3% further each year by cutting our management costs.

Cutting management costs - we're already doing it. Note: even if we got rid of EVERY SINGLE manager we'd only save 7% of total expenditure.

The Mayor was planning on £60m worth of cuts prior to the election in the event of a Tory victory at the general election and huge cuts to local government budgets.

It was an accurate prediction, sadly.

What is the implication of what you've said? It's the official Lib Dem line, so you are obviously a party member.

Is the implication Labour would have cut the budget and stored the cash in a secret vault somewhere?

Grow up.

My home address is published on the Council website, fyi.

Cllr Mike Harris said...

Further --

We have cuts outlined for around 55% of the initial estimate of £60m.

We think we need to find £87m worth of cuts.

That means we have a long way to go. But last night, in horrible circumstances, the Mayor had to pass the first £17m worth of cuts.

Lewisham Council starting planning this some time ago so we *should* be able to deliver a balanced budget next year. But these are unprecedented times.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cllr Harris. Your contributions are appreciated. I wouldn't like to have the responsibilities of the Mayor in these difficult times.

btw not all anon posters are idiots. Some of us just have no desire to part take in public life, and can't be bothered to make up a silly name.

Tamsin said...

Just choose random intials or numbers then - 375 - twr - xyz - etc. It would make it so much easier to reply to you and hardly adds a couple of seconds to your posting time.

(Brockley Jon - could the pre-set default be someone having to put in a name, so it is as quick to type in a couple of digits/letters as it is to choose to be "Anonymous"?)

Cllr Bike 'Arris said...

Yeah, well, after the mayor (Sir Steve) has 'briefed' me I'll get back to you on all that complicated stuff you asked me - got to get my story right y'know

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cllr Harris.

I'm confused by the following...

The Mayor was planning on £60m worth of cuts prior to the election in the event of a Tory victory at the general election and huge cuts to local government budgets.

The previous government was proposing 25% cuts but the Mayor's £60m annoucement was based on even far deeper cuts.

Plus in answer to a recent question by a councillor the Mayor said officers estimates of savings requirements have tended to be towards the pessimistic end.

I don't understand how it's leapt another 50% to £90m when you say the current government's figures are only 4% more than the previous government's proposals and the Mayor had already taken a change of government into account.

I'm still unclear as to what percentage cut council officers had in mind when drawing up their savings.

Anonymous said...

Even after last night's savings the Mayor was still talking in terms of £60m...

He said: “The scale of the challenge is unprecedented and represents more than double the level of savings the council has been faced with over the past three years.”

(In July the Mayor said he'd made savings of £26m over the past 3 years)

Anonymous said...

From Lewisham Council website

The Mayor has now agreed savings totalling £11.823m for 2011/12 and £16.395m in total for 2011-14. A further £16.042m savings will be considered in February next year.

The Mayor agreed all the proposals presented with the following variations:

•To defer the decision on library proposals until next year to provide time for interested residents to come forward and have further discussions with the Council about how they can be involved in the delivery of services in future

•To resist pressure to reduce the whole of the Council’s funding for extra Police Community Support Officers; £125K will remain available

•Following representations made, defer the decision on all savings related to the Business Regulatory Service until next year

•To defer the decision on whether to charge residents for replacement wheelie bins until next year so that it can be considered as part of the review of all fees and charges

•To defer the decision on changes to the structure of the Environmental Health Department until next year to consider in greater detail

•Withdraw the proposals for a saving of £50,000 to the Overview and Scrutiny budget, but accept the £15,000 savings to Member Development.

The Mayor also agreed that consultations could start on the proposal to close Amersham Early Years Centre.

Anonymous said...

29% cuts but 30% increase in the number of the Mayor's Cabinet at £15,298 each plus support officers.

Any money saved keeping cabinet members allowances at 2008 rates has been lost and actually increased the cost of the cabinet.

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