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A solution for Grove Park Library?

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16 February 2011
A solution for Grove Park Library Last week I had a lovely morning at the Pepys Resource Centre – an old haunt of mine from council days – but boy, has it changed (and for the better)!

I went along to meet with Darren Taylor, who runs a social enterprise called EcoComputers. He moved into the Pepys Resource Centre last year and has transformed the ground floor space into a thriving cafe/library (the sort of thing I always hoped it would be when I was a local Councillor). The downstairs space is used to refurb old computers which are either then sold on or given to community organisations. He uses profits from the company to reinvest in community facilities – genius!

It was a bit emotional for me to go back and bump into lots of familiar faces but really inspiring to hear about what’s been happening there. He clearly has a great team there with Gavin and others bringing the place alive.

So why my trip up to Deptford/down memory lane? As many of you will know, Lewisham Council are looking to close 5 libraries in order to save £1m. I know it’s something that the Mayor is considering with a very heavy heart and so it would be great if we could find an alternative way of running them. It looks like Darren may have an idea … EcoLibraries.

Darren is talking to the council about taking on a number of the libraries that have been earmarked for closure, including Grove Park in my constituency (Blackheath has another brillant team of people working on alternative provision under the leadership of Sir Ian Mills). Darren’s idea for Grove Park is that in addition to keeping a community resource open, he could also take in second hand books which he would then sell online (profits being reinvested again like the Pepys Resource Centre model).

I know there is still a bit of work to do on all of this (and undoubtedly lots of discussions for Darren to have with the council) but I am keeping my fingers crossed!

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