Lewisham cuts: Protest over council library closures

Image caption,
Protesters marched through Lewisham and Catford to complain about the local council's budget cuts

Several hundred people have joined a "carnival against cuts" in a south London borough where senior councillors backed the closure of five libraries.

Protesters gathered outside Lewisham Town Hall, calling for the libraries at Blackheath, Crofton Park, Grove Park, New Cross and Sydenham to be saved.

One man, a teacher at local school, said the cuts were "disgusting".

Elected Mayor Sir Steve Bullock has said the Labour-controlled council will try to protect those most in need.

There have already been protests in the borough, which is trying to save £88m over four years, with demonstrators entering Lewisham Town Hall in November and forcing their way into a council meeting.

And an all-night sit-in was staged at New Cross Library earlier this month, at the end of a day of action across England to encourage councils to protect such facilities.

Banners with messages including "don't cut our library", "fight the cuts" and "save our services" were displayed by those at Saturday's rally.

But Councillor Chris Best, the cabinet member for community services at Lewisham Council, said seven "hub" libraries and three community libraries would remain after the others shut on 28 May.

"We have negotiated internet access in 12 other London boroughs, borrowing books from 16 different London library services," she added.

"We're trying to say to people in Lewisham: spread your net, think about what else is out there, as well as coming to help us get these community libraries working."

Lewisham's cabinet voted on Thursday to go ahead with the cuts, which must still be approved at a full council meeting.

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