A BUSINESSMAN taking over three of Lewisham’s libraries has vowed to make them better.

Darren Taylor’s organisation Eco Computer Systems was given the go ahead to run Sydenham, Crofton Park and Grove Park libraries at a council meeting on Wednesday evening.

Showing News Shopper around the library he already runs at the Pepys Resource Centre in Deptford, Mr Taylor said: “You’re going to see from day one.

“You’re going to think ‘gosh, why didn’t you do this ten years ago?’”

The company moved into the building last July, using the top floor as a 3,500-book library, cafe and IT training suite, and the floor below for its computer recycling business.

It book-lending there is set to expand in the coming months when the administrative side moves into a second building and IT training relocates to a separate suite.

From here he runs a computer recycling business, which he says is just a way of funding other things, including free IT training, book-lending, activities and working with local organisations.

News Shopper: Mr Taylor's successful bid has been welcomed by some campaigners The same model is planned for the three new acquisitions with collections of donated computers taking place daily.

Mr Taylor, a former employee of computer giant Dell, said: “Our mission statement is about sorting out social problems.”

Each library will be run by one full-time librarian and volunteers. Each also has a steering group of organisations, schools and local people.

Sydenham Library will also be base for the Opening Doors employment service and Sydenham Community Radio.

Extra money is provided by sponsorship from housing associations like Hyde, Affinity Sutton and Family Mosaic, with further ones due to get involved.

He said: “From May 31 they’re going to be open the same hours, the same days as they are at the moment. The only difference is we’re not going to close for lunch.”

Mr Taylor added: “The libraries that were run down, that didn’t open so much - they needed to be made better.

“We’re going to get footfall and more activities.”

News Shopper: protestors occupied New Cross Library in February


Lewisham Council wanted to close five libraries to save money.

But while three have been handed over to Mr Taylor’s company and Blackheath Village Library will be run by the Age Exchange charity, with the help of a one-off £200,000 payment, the future of New Cross is unclear.

Now a group calling themselves the New Cross Community Library Campaign, with support from schools and groups in the area, are hoping to find a way forward.

The group will meet on May 19 from 6pm to 8pm at Pepys Resource Centre.

Meanwhile, other campaigners are unsatisfied with the council’s actions and are seeking a judicial review to prevent the library transfers taking place.

A protest against the changes at the Department for Culture Media and Sport will also take place on May 18.