Campaigners will stage a candlelit "eve of destruction rally" at the closed Carnegie Library in London’s Herne Hill on Thursday evening (31st August).
The procession, which starts at 8.30pm at nearby St Saviour’s Church, aims to emphasise the “crazy plan to install a gym that nobody wants and nobody needs… at huge expense to Lambeth taxpayers”. Contractors are due to start work imminently on the site.
The grade II-listed building has been closed since April last year with Lambeth Council planning to turn it into a “healthy living centre with a self-service neighbourhood library” with control being passed to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL). Thirty demonstrators occupied the site for 10 days in April 2016 in a bid to stop it from closing as 2,000 people demonstrated outside.
On April Fool’s Day this year, hundreds gathered to “ridicule” the situation with speakers including comedian Jeremy Hardy and authors Stella Duffy OBE, Toby Litt and Barbara Ellis blasting the council’s decision.
A spokesperson for the Defend the 10 campaign, which is organising the procession, said the library should be re-opened for residents and to save the council money.
They said: “All its running costs are still being paid - plus extra for security guards. Nothing has been done to the abandoned building.
“Local people have called repeatedly for the popular library to be re-opened - saving the council money. Letters, petitions, demonstrations have all been ignored. The council refuses to listen. Local people refuse to give up.
“Now the council is hell-bent on starting work - starting by digging a hole in the basement at a cost to taxpayers of £1.25m.”
Lambeth Council has said it will work with the Carnegie Community Trust to transfer ownership of the building to GLL to make the building “sustainable in the long term” and ensure it is in the “best interests of the local community”. The trust recently said in an open letter that it was "still not on the same page as the council".
The council’s website said: “The planning application has now been granted permission. Contractors have been appointed and work should start in August 2017. A Community Liaison Group is being established to help manage the works and a preliminary meeting with residents neighbouring the site was held on 20th July.
“Lambeth has identified the Carnegie Community Trust as the preferred partner for the Asset Transfer, following an extensive asset transfer bidding process and review, including independent advice. The council will work closely with the trust over the coming months to finalise its offer, aiming to complete a final agreement by the end of the year in order to re-open the building.”
Lambeth Council has been approached for a comment.