Lambeth are currently delivering a grossly misleading leaflet to homes in Herne Hill Ward. Lambeth's current plans would not provide a viable library or a viable gym. The library would not have sufficient space, staffing or hours to attract enough users to justify the cost of keeping it open once next year's Council Elections were out of the way.
Below are some of the specific things the leaflet says or clearly implies and the true situation in respect of each:
|Lambeth's Suggestion||The Truth|
|The library was closed for building work.||The library was closed 17 months before the date programmed for starting the work. The date planned for reopening is 11 weeks before the Council Elections.|
|GLL, who are expected to run the gym, also run libraries and will provide staff "in the library" to "assist library users."||From time-to-time GLL would have sales staff for the gym, not library staff, in the front entrance lobby on the ground floor of the building, not the library. When they were present there would be public access to the library. The library would not be staffed or supervised except that a Library Assistant or Librarian would visit for about two hours most days.|
|The GLL staff will be present for 40 hours a week and this "will increase."||Lambeth are arranging for the sales staff to be present for 40 hours a week until after the Council Elections. For a brief period after the gym opens longer hours can be expected as GLL attempt to sell gym memberships. Thereafter the hours can be expected to reduce, eventually to nothing.|
|Lambeth excavated the basement to accommodate the gym.||The basement excavation and its depth were proposed years before the gym. The excavated basement is not deep enough for a gym, that is, for users to jump or raise their hands above their heads.
|The gym "will provide an income stream for the building."||There is competition from leisure centres and other gyms, all offering much better or cheaper facilities in locations that are more convenient for most people. This strongly suggests that the gym would always require subsidy to cover its running costs.|
|GLL will "pay a £1 million contribution."||All the money being spent is Lambeth's. £1 million of it would be spent on improving the Council's leisure centres if it were not being wasted on the gym.|
|Capital spent on providing the gym is an investment which will generate a return in the long run.||This is completely fanciful. The "investment" appears to be about £5 million. Lambeth is currently borrowing money for 20 years at 4.7% per annum. To produce an overall profit the gym would need to generate a surplus of £400 000 a year.|
|Carnegie Community Trust is a community organisation and independent of the Council.||The Trust was set up at Lambeth's behest and is financially dependent on the Council. By its constitution the Trust is specifically prohibited from having voting members other than its trustees.|
|Carnegie Community Trust would "oversee" the library.||The Trust was set up to replace the library with something which is not a library. The aim has always been to replace Council funding with grants that are not available for libraries. From the outset the Trust's original predecessor, Carnegie Project Group, was adamant that a library could therefore only be accommodated as a commercial tenant paying a market rent plus service charges.|
|The changes to Carnegie Library would save the Council money.||The library before it closed was open for 36 hours a week with two or three staff usually present. Substituting a single member of staff visiting for two hours a day on, say, five days a week would save about £125 000 a year. But to set against this there would be the rent payable by Lambeth to the Trust of about £35 000 a year and the grant from Lambeth to the Trust of £40 000 a year. Additionally, the Trust instead of Lambeth would take hire fees from desk spaces of about £50 000 a year. So there would not be a saving even if the astronomic cost of the gym were ignored.|