London

Lewisham Council library closures approved

A police officer tackles a protester inside Lewisham town hall
Image caption In November police tackled protesters inside Lewisham town hall

Five libraries in south London are set to close, including one where protesters staged an all-night sit-in.

The facilities in Blackheath, Sydenham, Crofton Park, New Cross and Grove Park will shut on 28 May.

Lewisham council said the move, which cuts the number of libraries to six, is one of the measures aimed at saving £88m over four years.

Councillors also increased the price of parking, school meals and adult social care services.

However, the decisions made by the council's cabinet on Thursday night must still be ratified by a meeting of the full council.

'Poor paying'

Elected Mayor Sir Steve Bullock has said the Labour-controlled council will try to protect those most in need and not simply "those who shout the loudest".

But campaign groups, including the Lewisham Cuts Alliance and Lewisham People Before Profit, called cuts a way of "making the poor pay for a financial crisis".

The councillors also agreed a host of measures to increase revenue from residents.

They included:

  • Increasing council housing rents by 5%.
  • Raising the price of school meals from £1.60 to £2 by 2013.
  • Reducing council subsidies for nursery places by up to 40%.
  • Raising parking charges and doubling the cost of residents' permits.
  • Increasing late-return fees for library books and DVDs.
  • Upping pest control charges.
  • Increasing the charge for meals-on-wheels by 50p.
  • Raising the weekly charge for adult social care services from £290 to £395.

A council spokesman said: "All those charges are bringing the fees nearer to the London averages.

"All those charges are lower than the London average."

In November, protesters entered Lewisham Town Hall after a crowd gathered to demonstrate over council cuts and tuition fees.

Some forced their way into a council meeting and had to be removed and several police officers were injured in the scuffles.

Local authorities face an average 9.9% cut in government formula grant funding in 2011/12.

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