Despite promising to keep libraries open at last year’s local election, Southwark Labour moved to shut libraries for part of the week in their first budget of the new term. They had hoped to squeeze the change through by burying the change in small print as ‘reshaping’ services. However, at the Council’s Overview and Scrutiny committee, Liberal Democrat councillors dug deeper to reveal the full story and launched a stinging attack at their backtracking.
Within two days, the Labour administration caved in under the pressure and suddenly found a million pounds to keep libraries open after all.
Cllr Victor Chamberlain, Liberal Democrat member of Southwark Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee said:
‘This sudden Labour U-Turn is a huge victory for those who depend on our libraries. We know they are essential spaces for a wide range of groups in our community: whether to do their homework, to access the internet they don’t have at home, to tackle loneliness and meet up with friends, or as a free place for children to enjoy and learn.
At the very first opportunity Labour tried to backtrack on their promises to keep libraries open. It was the Liberal Democrats holding their feet to the fire that ensured they haven't succeeded. We promised to hold Labour to account, and by making sure that our libraries stay open we have done exactly that.’