Plans to turn library into gym are hit following resignations


Controversial plans to turn part of a South London library into a gym have been set back as two leading figures in the negotiations quit.

The Carnegie Community Trust (CCT) has been negotiating with the council after it was selected in June this year to transform the Carnegie Library into a community hub.

The project was hit by protests earlier in the year as nearby residents were angered by the fact that leisure company Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) is set to use part of the building as a gym. Ex-Labour councillors Carole Boucher and Fred Taggart had been the chairwoman and secretary of CCT until they resigned last week.
Mr Taggart and Ms Boucher sighted GLL’s involvement as a factor for their departure.

The Carnegie Library Association (CLA) competed with CTA for the Carnegie Library project earlier in the year. Their chairman Jeff Doorn said the project was destined for disaster as the council had not chosen the group that truly represents the community.

Mr Doorn, 69, said: “Unlike the trust we are backed by hundreds of members with trustees who have been democratically elected.

“The Association is fully-prepared to step up to the plate and start discussions with Lambeth on our plans to run the library and associated activities for the benefit of the whole community.”

The library has been closed since 2016 as a £1.25m excavation project into the basement of the building has been in process in order to house the gym.

Mr Doorn said: “No one wants the gym, no one will use the gym. Why are they still trying to impose this on us? It is only getting in the way of true community events.

“There are a lot of people with mobility issues and people who have been coming to this library for years.

“They are not going to go somewhere else that is not familiar and where they do not feel safe.”

Leader of Lambeth council, Cllr Lib Peck, said: “The council is still in negotiations with the Carnegie Community Trust regarding the asset transfer of Carnegie Library and we hope to reach agreement soon.

“I’d like to thank Carol and Fred for their hard work as part of the CCT, and I’m disappointed to see them step down. The library is due to reopen early in the new year.”

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