Deadline looms for Lewisham library closures

Deadline looms for Lewisham library closures

Lewisham library campaigners have been left stranded as the 28th May closure date for New Cross library approached without word from the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) to residents or the council.

Residents Peter and Patricia Richardson had called on culture minister Ed Vaizey to intervene over the closure or transfer of five libraries on Saturday. In a letter received this week, they were told the department was “endeavouring to send a full response by 6th June at the latest”, a week after the closure date.

A Lewisham council spokesperson said that as of yesterday (25th May) the council, which was called in to meet the DCMS in early April to discuss the campaigners’ concerns, had received no recommendations as a result of that meeting.

A DCMS spokesperson said: “We are not prepared to give a running commentary on individual authorities. We will make public any information or decisions at the appropriate time.”

The spokesperson said the DCMS was continuing to monitor and assess proposals and decisions being made about changes to library services across England, and took “very seriously” compliance by local authorities with their statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.

Campaigner Desmond Clarke called the response extraordinary. “They seem to be sitting on their hands throughout this,” he said. “Within the 1964 Act a provision was made to allow for local inquiries, provided local residents had grounds for complaint and the council was failing to meet its obligations.

“You have to allow people to have a voice. For some reason, the DCMS seems to be ignoring that responsibility and provision.”