Southwark Library closures?

Southwark Council is undertaking a ‘library review’. The consultation process for the review includes a survey questionnaire which will commence in all libraries next week, as well as an online version of the survey being available on the Council’s website. (I’ll add the link to this when it become available).

The terms of reference for the review have been agreed as follows to:
– make recommendations for savings and efficiencies of a minimum of £397,000 over the years 2012/13 and 2013/14 (potential library closures).
– review demand and usage patterns in order to determine appropriate choices for the future scale and nature of provision (potential library closures).
– consider and make recommendations on innovative methods of service delivery including through the delivery of other Council customer services
– maximise the use of ICT in terms of service delivery and as a service (books aren’t very fashionable in Library services).
– consider what other services might be delivered from libraries (talk of coffee sales)
– review the impact of opening Canada Water Library on the total service offer (as it will cost more to run than the Rotherhithe Library it replaces).

A public meeting is being held at each library which locally are:
05/07/2011 7pm to 8pm Kingswood Library
11/07/2011 7pm to 8pm Dulwich Library
13/07/2011 2pm to 3pm Grove Vale Library

PLEASE DO GO ALONG SO THAT THEY ARE VIEWED AS POPULAR. If we want to keep Dulwich Library opening 7 days a week people need to go along and tell them. IF you want to keep Grove Vale Library and Kingswood Library do go along.

For background of what might be possible –
Following these ideas the current Library budget should allow for cuts and more opening hours.

What do you think should happen to our public libraries in Southwark?

Expanding Libraries

The Labour Southwark Council budget proposes cuts to Southwark Libraries. I approached indie libraries for advice about how budgets could be cut while protecting actual libraries and the crucial services they provide. I was pointed to the following YouTube videos – 3 x 10mins videos showing a talk given by Tim Coates – former CEO of Waterstones and library guru:

Following his advice I think Southwark appears from CiPFA to spend just over £6.6M on library services.  Also following his model roughly and conservatively £2M appears avoidable without damaging any front line services. Those back office costs that get in the way of our libraries offering a truly great and responsive service.

Take a look and tell me what you think.

Also while out and about I came across one of the building used to support Southwark Libraries pictured above – its bigger than most Southwark Libraries!

Grove Vale library

The planning application for current Dulwich Garden Centre to be demolished and replaced by a new Grove Vale library (twice the current ones size), 20 flats and a shop has been submitted.

This is more attractive than the previous application easthetically. Unfortunately it has had to propose the library in a slightly less favourable position but it is proposed it will be bigger than the replacement one previously proposed.

So I’m rather excited by this.

Do take a look and let me know what you think:

Grove Vale library

In 2005 I spotted that developer had made a Planning Application for 18-22 Grove Vale where the Dulwich Garden Centre is. The scheme look at best dull. Equally the Grove Vale library is two small shops unit poorly linked together. Great library in terms of children’s books etc but poor building to provide library services.

So I approached the developer and suggested that if they included a new Grove Vale library their scheme would be more successful. That turned into a long two years working with the developer, council officers and colleagues to incorporate a new 230m2 Grove Vale library which gained planning permission January 2007.

Then the recession hit. BANG. All property values slumped but more importantly since then it has become REALLY hard to borrow money. One surveyor told me you can’t borrow money outside London and in London banks expect 35% margins to borrow ie a big cushion just in case.

So I’ve had many conversations with the developer about what might be possible. I’ve spoken to Southwark libraries about what could/would work to give a great new library. Various rules around insulation are now much tighter – new part L building regs today, Southwark Core Strategy where all rooms have to be bigger, etc.

After a lot of soul searching I’m hopeful we’ve sailed a route which should give us a new 250m2 +50m2 ‘winter garden’ Grove Vale library. It would be behind a new retail unit at the front with library accessed via a 3 metre wide corridor at the back. The residential flats above would reduce to 21 units.

Yesterday I met with the developers team and Southwark Planning officials to witness the hurdles and issues the developer needs to bridge before submitting a full Planning Application. I’m hopefully these wont take long and a scheme can be submitted in November or January.

If you have any questions or thoughts about this please get in touch.

Hopefully I’ll have some images to share soon. 

Missing 50,000 residents

One of my councillor colleagues testified to the London Regional Parliamennts Select Committee regarding the 2011 census. The MPs heard a unified message from Newham, Southwark and Westminster councils about how hard it is to count residents.

Each resident attracts roughly £600 of funding from central government.

Currently central government believes 270,000 residents are residents in Southwark. Southwark currently has 320,000 people registered with GPs. That means roughly £30M of central government grants are not being made to Southwark.

It seems unlikely as planned the 2011 Census will close any of that gap. Worringly it could well open it up further.

Library scare mongering

On Tuesday the South London Press launched a campaign to ‘save four libraries’ they suggest are proposed for closure. It then went on to suggest how Southwark libraries are under resourced, etc, etc.

This is the same Southwark Council that has announced a new state of the art Library for Canada Water. Has increased the opening hours at several libraries. Is currently revamping the John Harvard library and Local Studies library.

Many options are presetned by council officers near budget times.

Southwark Liberal Democrat councillors have no plans to reduce the numbers of libraries in Southwark. It is a shame when a local newspaper tries to start creating such unfounded news.