Council confirms future is safe for Southfields library

Published: Thursday 25th September 14

Over the past 24 hours the council has become aware of comments concerning the future of Southfields library that have been made on Twitter and other social media and also distributed via leaflets in the area.

Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “These allegations are untrue. Of course, we always look at every possible savings option but reject any that would be unacceptable. There are absolutely no plans to close Southfields library or indeed any other library in the borough.

“We are strong supporters of our libraries and we value them highly. We fully recognise the hugely important role they play in the well-being of our borough and the enormous contribution they make to the lives of local people of all ages and from all backgrounds. Indeed our libraries are widely recognised as being amongst the best performing in London.

“We have recently entered into a long term contract with a charitable social enterprise to manage our libraries on a day-to-day basis. This change has allowed us to make the necessary level of savings we needed to ensure the financial future of our library service, without requiring any closures.

“We have also been keen to explore other ways of running services at our libraries to ensure they remain vibrant. In the case of York Gardens in Battersea we have worked closely alongside volunteers from the local neighbourhood and supported their efforts in running a variety of community-led initiatives and activities at the library, like homework clubs, and this has proved to be a great success.

“This is a good demonstration of our commitment to libraries and how we look for intelligent and workable solutions for keeping them open at a time when other boroughs are slashing their library services and closing branches on an almost industrial scale.

“In contrast, here in Wandsworth we have been investing in ours and safeguarding their futures. In the case of Southfields, some people may be getting confused about its temporary closure next month while we repair its roof. We are investing around £20,000 in a new roof for the library and we would hardly be spending this money if we were then planning to close it down.”

Wandsworth maintains 11 libraries across the borough and has one of the highest loan ratios in the capital. Customer surveys also show that Wandsworth’s branches achieve some of the highest satisfaction scores in London.   

While Wandsworth has 11 libraries some neighbouring boroughs have many fewer. In Hammersmith & Fulham there are just five, while in Merton there are only eight. Lewisham has seven, Kingston has seven while Kensington and Chelsea has six. In 2012 Brent Council voted to close six of its 12 libraries.

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Recent comments

I have just received a glossy pamphlet telling me that Southfields library is going to close. I looked first on your web site and see that you are aware of these pamphlets and that there is no truth in it whatsoever. I sincerely hope that this is true and that you will again put this in your next newsletter. I am a frequent user of the library and have never been in it when there is no one else there. It is a busy library and at times it is extremely busy. It is an obvious asset to our small community and I trust that it will remain so.
linda bensohn

1 October 2014