A senior Beckenham Councillor has accused the Labour Party of shameful scaremongering over the future of Beckenham Library.A recent feasibility report into whether to move Beckenham Library from its current home on Beckenham Road to the Public Halls in Beckenham Town Centre has concluded that such a move should not take place. On 2nd September councillors on the Conservative councillors on the Renewal and Recreation scrutiny committee voted to keep the library in its current location.
The report does say, if carefully managed, a move to the Beckenham Public Hall could be successful, but it does not recommend that for the time being.
However, the Labour Party has been accused of being behind a dishonest campaign headed “Save Our Library” that misled local people into thinking the library would be closed.
Conservative Councillor Michael Tickner, who represents Beckenham Town Centre said:
“The library service in Beckenham was never under threat of closure. The issue was whether to upgrade and relocate it to the Public Halls in Beckenham Town Centre.”
“It is one of the most popular libraries in the borough, but the massive space it currently occupies, and the difficulty its current location presents for some residents to reach it, means this review was long overdue. It was highly irresponsible of Labour councillors for the area to scaremonger in the community, falsely suggesting the library would be closed.”
In January 2020 Lewisham West & Penge Conservatives ran a survey asking residents their views on the plans, with over 400 residents taking part. The survey was submitted to Red Quadrant, the company running the independent feasibility study.
In their report, Red Quadrant do state that moving the library to the public halls presents an opportunity for a “beautiful and inspiring new library (to) be achieved”. It would improve access by bringing more residential areas within 15 minutes travel time and increase usage.
However, on balance it was concluded the move would mean less books to choose from and reduced community space.
President of Lewisham West & Penge Conservatives, and former Clock House ward councillor, Sarah Phillips, said:
“Beckenham Library is one of the most used libraries in the borough so it is right that the council should seek to ensure it is in a suitable location with the most convenient access to it. Personally, I am delighted that the report has recommended keeping the library in its current location. The library is clearly popular and contributes to the character of the local community.”