Camden library budget to be slashed by £2million

10:39 22 November 2010

Howard Jacobson at Heath Library

Howard Jacobson at Heath Library


SPENDING on Camden’s libraries will be slashed by a massive £2million as the cuts begin to bite, the borough’s finance chief has revealed.

Cllr Theo Blackwell told the Ham&High this week that the council’s £8million library budget is set to be reduced by a quarter over the next three years.

His announcement came in response to claims last week that several community libraries will face the axe.

And Cllr Blackwell admitted that with the unprecedented savings Camden has been asked to make there would “inevitably” be some library closures, but dismissed speculation that libraries will be slashed from 13 to four.

“The horrible choice is that the more you want to protect the libraries in one part of the borough, the more pressure there is on a library in another area, or on after-school clubs or luncheons for older people or a play-centre for children,” explained the Labour councillor for Gospel Oak.

“People need to realise the scale of the cuts is so massive we can’t get there by efficiencies alone.”

But Cllr Blackwell promised the axe would not fall as hard as it has done in other boroughs and claimed the library service would remain strong.

He said suggestions that Camden would only be left with four libraries was a “wild idea”.

“When we came into power in May there was quite a worked- up programme from officers to reduce the libraries service to this hub of four very large libraries,” he said. “Within the library profession there’s this thing about having big super libraries instead of small branch libraries. But we rejected that out of hand and immediately.”

However, Belsize Conservative councillor Jonny Bucknall said Cllr Blackwell should not yet have even the “faintest contemplation” of closures until he has explored every other avenue.

“Each library should be looked at as a special case and they should work with the friends of the libraries to keep the doors open and encourage blue sky thinking,” he said.

“If he’s considering closing any libraries without exploring all possibilities of keeping them open it is a complete dereliction of duty.”

Ruth Gorb, committee member from the Friends of Heath Library, said she was distressed by the idea of any libraries being shut.

“I’ve been told the amount spent on libraries in general is minimal compared to what is spent in other areas,” she said.

“Is it worth the small saving for such a huge upset?”

Ms Gorb stressed that high level support for Camden’s libraries was already coming from local authors such as Howard Jacobson.

The Booker prize winner visited Heath Library last week and gave a rousing speech, calling on people to fight for their free libraries because they were our civilisation.

Cllr Blackwell said the council will announce all its financial plans for Camden’s public services on Tuesday.

A full public consultation is due to follow.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 17:15

A heritage campaigner has told of his devastation after he watched raiders ransack a disused pub that he fought to preserve.

Yesterday, 15:45

A historic red phone box in Highgate Village could soon be a tiny office space, complete with printing, scanning, copying and wifi

Yesterday, 11:00

Camden parents were forced to pay a total of £20,000 in school fines in the last year, new figures have revealed.

Yesterday, 07:08

This year’s Hampstead Christmas Festival has been called off, the Ham&High can reveal.

Wed, 19:00

The vicar believes the flags were taken down on both occasions as part of a targeted ‘homophobic attack’ on his church’s open and inclusive values

Wed, 17:39

Women have been warned to be vigilant when using the Black Path in West Hampstead after a lone female was sexually attacked in broad daylight on Saturday afternoon.

Wed, 17:14

An angry churchgoer has written to the Bishop of London suggesting that a Hampstead vicar downsizes his home to raise funds for a dilapidated church.

Wed, 14:44

Officers have thanked the public as they were concerned about the man who disappeared while receiving treatment at the Hampstead hospital

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news


Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot


Cosmetics, toiletries, vitamins and more. Boots is the number one choice when it comes to purchasing daily essentials.

If you’re obsessed with Apple or just love a good gadget, this is a prize that will blow you away! An incredible £3,333 to spend on Apple goodies! How would you like to be the proud new owner of the Apple Watch?

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now