Carnegie Library protestors handed court order

Carnegie Library protestors handed court order

Actress Adjoa Andoh has joined campaigners protesting at Carnegie Library as Lambeth council issued occupiers with a possession order against them.

The actress, famous for starring in Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus” and “Doctor Who”, has attended the library to support more than 40 protestors who have been occupying Carnegie Library in London's Herne Hill since Thursday night (31st March).

The campaigners are refusing to leave the building until the council agrees to reconsider plans to transform the library into a “healthy living centre” run by social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited.

Lambeth enforcement officers delivered a possession order to the campaigners yesterday.

The notice read: “You are occupying the premises of Carnegie Library without the licence or consent of the council. The council has an immediate right to full and vacant possession of the premises but you have failed to leave despite being asked to. The council has now applied to the court for an interim possession order against you.”

The first possession (interim) hearing will take place on Friday (8th April) with a second court hearing scheduled for 4th May 4at Lambeth County Court.

The notice also stated that the council will be "seeking its reasonable costs" from the campaigners for "having to commence these court proceedings".

Laura Swaffield, chair of the Library Campaign, is among the 40 protestors that have been occupying the library since Thursday evening. Swaffield told The Bookseller that the campaigners will not attend this Friday's hearing. She said: "We will be here [in the library]. We're not coming out for anything."

Swaffield said the protest is "creating the kind of ripples we need". She added: "There has started to be ructions within the Labour party with many councillors realising that the plans are nonsense. We want to change policy and not just organise an amazing occupation. We actually want to achieve results that will change the council's decision."

Andoh, who has lived in Brixton for more than 20 years and visited the library today (5th April), said: “This library is part of my family’s life. I don’t understand the council’s logic on this. It is distressing for everyone but is a sign of the times when the economy triumphs over community space.”

Lambeth councillor Jane Edbrooke said: “We understand that people are passionate about this issue, but it’s a simple fact – there is less money to go round – so savings have to be made.”

“Despite our financial challenge we are one of the few areas of the country that has found a way to maintain a library service in all our current locations,” Edbrooke added. “It is unfortunate that a small number of people have decided to be obstructive, especially as Lambeth Council has worked incredibly hard to minimise the impact of the cuts on Lambeth libraries.”

Swaffield said that representatives of the Labour-run Lambeth Council have only come to the library to inspect the premises and hand out the eviction order but have done "nothing positive at all". She said: “The only people [from the council] that have come here are people trying to get us out. Nobody has come to discuss the proposals with us.”

Swaffield also told The Bookseller that the protesters are planning to stage a march and demonstration this Saturday (9th April).