Funny Money

Contrary to what Lambeth say:

  • What they are doing to our library is not a money saving exercise.
  • The planned gym will always need subsidising and it will never make a contribution to the cost of the library.

Although the reduction in library opening hours would save about £125,000 a year in staff costs, Lambeth appear to be providing about the same amount to their Carnegie Community Trust to run the main room as a Church hall type of facility instead of the previous flexible use as a library and hall.  So there would not be any saving overall.

The disclosed estimates of the capital costs of the building works total £3 million.  Final costs of Lambeth projects always seem to be a multiple of the original estimates.  We should therefore expect the final cost of the works to be at least £5 million.  Lambeth are currently borrowing at 4.7% per annum.  Assuming a generous 20 years for repayment the financing costs come out at £400,000 a year.  The basement is not deep enough for a gym and there are many cheaper gyms offering more facilities in locations more convenient for almost anyone who wants a gym.  It would be hopelessly unrealistic to expect the gym to attract enough custom to cover its running costs, let alone generate an additional £400,000 a year to cover the financing costs.

One view is that Councillors are just indulging themselves at the People's expense in the standard Lambeth nonsense of always having money for pet projects but not for services to the public.  For example, Lambeth are simultaneously:

  • Spending about £100 million on "Your Nu Town Hall."
  • Refusing to pay the water bill of £2,000 a year for the paddling pool in Ruskin Park.  They say that the Friends of Ruskin Park, whose volunteers already manage and clean the pool, must pay this in future.

However, there is a more sinister aspect to the current and proposed building work to the library in that all of it is more consistent with Lambeth's previously announced plan to sell the library for redevelopment than with providing a gym in the basement or restricting the use of the ground floor.  The details are here.

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