During the Council session on January 27th Councillor Edbrooke stated that an independent expert would now evaluate the feasibility of the staff/community mutual fund proposal.
That sounds encouraging.
Councillor Edbrooke gave no indication as to how long this evaluation would take.
The suspicion of all the library friends groups campaigning to keep a ten-library service is that the consideration will be so long-drawn out that the Council will claim that it is too late to implement the proposal in the next financial year (in fact the amended motion states the proposal must be operational by April).
The record is not encouraging.
The mutual fund proposal was first presented in April 2015, in summary form, in the consultation on Lambeth’s cultural services policy.
There was no response from Council officers, until October 2015 when they unveiled their own proposals (which removed funding from half of Lambeth’s libraries) and rejected the mutual fund proposal.
In late November 2015 and responding to political pressure and public outrage, Council officers commissioned Ms Barnes to work up the proposal.
The proposal was delivered at the beginning of January 2016.
Four weeks later no assessment has been forthcoming.
One disturbing feature is that the Council side seems to want the proposal to be developed for implementation some years down the line – and for five town centre libraries only, as by then all the other libraries will have ceased to exist.
Library Friends groups in Lambeth are totally against such a revision of the proposal.