London

Lambeth library occupation 'turning into a siege'

Protesters inside and outside Carnegie Library Image copyright Friends of Lambeth Libraries
Image caption Children are among the protesters inside Carnegie Library

Campaigners who have been occupying a library for more than 24 hours say security outside has been tightened.

They have been refusing to leave Carnegie Library in Loughborough Junction, south London, since Thursday evening in protest at its closure.

Police stationed outside the library are allowing people to leave but not to return, protester Laura Swaffield said.

She said the occupation was "turning into a siege". About 80 people are thought to be inside the library.

'Stuck for the weekend'

Lambeth Council has described the occupation as "obstructive" and "misleading" as the library's closure is only temporary.

Ms Swaffield, who chairs the group Friends of Lambeth Libraries, spoke to the BBC from inside the building.

Image copyright Friends of Lambeth Libraries
Image caption Carnegie Library closed on Thursday evening and is due to reopen next year

She said people had been allowed to come and go from the premises on Thursday, and it was "quite pleasant", but the council beefed up the security on Friday.

"The council said people are allowed to leave the building but nobody is allowed to come in.

"The council tried to get a court order but couldn't, so it seems like we are stuck for the weekend.

Image copyright @jeremy_clyne
Image caption Police officers were called to the library on Friday, protesters say

"None of this is necessary but Lambeth will not talk to us, and we have tried to [talk] by all the democratic means but their only reaction has been to try and cause a conflict here and get us out."

Two libraries run by Lambeth - the Carnegie and the Minet Library - were shut on Thursday, but the council said both would reopen next year as "healthy living centres" under plans to generate savings.

Earlier a council spokesman said the Carnegie "would reopen to the public, for longer hours, in early 2017 and will have a neighbourhood library service, health and fitness facilities and space for community groups to use".

The council said libraries in Brixton, Streatham, West Norwood and Clapham would remain open, but Waterloo Library will move to the nearby Oasis Centre.

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