Conservative councillors in Greenwich have proposed a new policy to protect smaller libraries in the borough amidst fears for their future.

Described as a "Library Lock" proposal, the fresh policy is due to be debated this evening at the Greenwich full council meeting in Woolwich town hall.

The move follows the Labour-run council’s decision to consult on closing the Greenwich mobile library service which currently stops at 18 roadside locations, six primary schools and 27 nurseries, issuing 30,000 items a year.

Local Conservatives have expressed fears over a "creeping centralisation" of library services to the bigger centres in Greenwich, Woolwich and Eltham, which could put eight smaller libraries at risk of closure.


Councillor Mark Elliott, Greenwich Conservatives’ spokesperson for Education and Culture, said the bigger centres are working well, and welcomed the replacement Abbey Wood library, but urged the council not to neglect the smaller libraries.

He stressed the importance of libraries for the communities they serve, which include New Eltham, Coldharbour, Charlton, Blackheath, Plumstead, Slade Centre, Thamesmead and West Greenwich.

Conservative London Assembly candidate Adam Thomas and councillor Mark Elliott outside the New Eltham library

Coun Elliot said: "Between them, these smaller libraries serve more than half a million visitors and issue more than 250,000 items, a year.

"The Library Lock policy we are proposing would commit Greenwich Council to ensuring the future of these eight smaller libraries.

"I hope that Labour councillors will support our proposal, and give residents the reassurance they deserve that smaller libraries will not be closed."

A spokeswoman for Greenwich Council said: "Libraries are a vital community resource and the Royal Borough is investing in the service.

"At a time when other local councils are reducing funding for libraries, Royal Greenwich is bucking the national trend.

"Since 2010 we’ve opened two new libraries in  Greenwich and Woolwich and all our libraries have benefitted from new technology and IT.

"We’ve fully refurbished the library in Thamesmere and extended the opening hours. A new library is also planned in Abbey Wood near the station.

"The result of this investment is clear. Visits to Greenwich Libraries are increasing at a time when other councils are seeing a decline.

"It is also proof of our continued commitment to both our town centre and local libraries and we will continue to prioritise and invest in a service that we know is important to our residents."