Jump to content
Gary

Threat of library closures

Recommended Posts

My reporters tells me the number of people who are campaigning to save the libraries who attended tonight's meeting was "about 20."

I don't want to see any libraries close.

I believe they are an important part of community life.

But I also realise we are living in a changing world.

It is easy to get thousands of people signing online petitions.

It is sadly not easy getting people to use libraries - and even less easy to get them to turn out in huge numbers on a cold night to show the strength of feeling.

I used to love reading books - the sad fact of the world we live in now is that less and less people are reading books - and this number will continue to reduce even if we had a library on every street corner with thousands of books to choose from.

Having said all that - £300k to retain the status quo is a small drop in the ocean.

 

It was made clear beforehand that all seats had been booked in the council chambers and that there would be no opportunity to speak.  Sitting in the adjoining room (where previously the loudspeakers haven't been too clear) or standing outside in the freezing cold wasn't an inviting prospect. So I'm surprised as may as 20 attended. Whatever, it doesn't make any difference how many people turned up on the night, the 10,000 signatures on the petition are enough to show the strength of feeling. Many people participate in elections by voting by mail these days, does the fact that they don't actually attend a polling station make their vote any less valid?

 

The falling numbers at libraries (if the figures are correct) are likely due to a number of reasons. Warrington Library doesn't have the same appeal for me as Liverpool or Manchester, it just doesn't have enough books and the type it stocks I don't find appealing. I do use the reference library in Warrington for local history research and occasionally browse the other sections. I find it annoying that most of Warrington's local history is in Chester archives.

 

Warrington libraries have cut hours and this has bound to have led to 'falling numbers'. Whatever, it was silly of Livewire to focus on 'falling numbers' as it's a very bad reflection on their management!

Warrington as an aspiring 'city' should have built a library to equal the provision of that in Manchester or Liverpool as part of the town centre re-generation plans and the present town centre library should have been used for local history, with our archives brought back from Chester. That would have attracted people to the town who would likely shop and eat there too. But when you have people with no idea of the meaning of the word 'culture' running the regeneration programme this was never going to be on their agenda.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of the people who turned up on Monday night managed to get seats in the Council Chamber it was more to show that we cared. The falling numbers that keep being mentioned are questionable remember it was a Councillor that pointed out to LiveWire that there were 12 months in the year in relation to statistics for Culcheth Library. If Steven Broomhead is using comparisons between Sept-Nov 2015 and current figures I hope he has taken into consideration - lack of publicity for Library events, shorter opening hours (in some cases closed for whole days), halved book budget, less newspapers, magazines, dvd's etc. To be fair you have to compare "like with like" but since when has fairness and transparency ever come into statistics from LiveWire. The "borrow a book day" attracted huge numbers from 350 - 700 Residents going into their local Libraries but they do need to keep coming in.  I agree that people with no idea of what heritage and culture means are running the Libraries. There has been no regeneration programme of Libraries, since 2012 when the Library Service joined with LiveWire, when it had a budget of 2.2 million, it has been systematically neglected, given no help or encouragement to promote itself, been run by Sport and Leisure personnel who no nothing of the ethos or workings of Libraries etc. It is not surprising if the visitor figures have declined then LW will have a self fulfilling prophecy (engineered by them). If you read the Warrington Guardian, the "save warrington libraries" forum on Facebook/website, have attended a Consultation Meeting and WBC meetings, went to LW's AGM and read the comments on this forum you will have some idea of the misguided, nonsensical Modernisation Review written without expertise, consulting users, true facts and figures etc. Central Library should share the historic building with the Museum and with some re-organisation, more books, utilising unused space etc., it could include a "Heritage Hub" and a cultural centre that our forefathers were proud of and so could we be.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It was good that some people attended on the night, well done to you and the other protestors for going. I didn't go because quite frankly I've already sat through too many such meetings and having heard so many blatant lies told, I just couldn't stomach hearing any more and as I said before, lack of attendance of signatories doesn't make the petition any less valid. 

 

It is obvious that the 'consultation process' has been farcical, it was engineered to produce a result they wanted but it has backfired on them. What they will be doing now is trying to find a way of manipulating the results.

 

WBC/LiveWire have now no alternative but to consult again with the protestors and there needs to be a clear plan of what the protestors want to achieve.  You mention you have already participated in some consultations, has there been any indication that WBC/Livewire would be willing to listen and perhaps change or compromise on their plans?

 

Has there been any indication that WBC/LiveWire would be willing to keep all the libraries open? and if so in what format?

There does seem to be some space in the Lymm Library building since Citizen's advice moved (which was a sad loss), have you any ideas on how that space could be utilised?  

  

  

...................................................Central Library should share the historic building with the Museum and with some re-organisation, more books, utilising unused space etc., it could include a "Heritage Hub" and a cultural centre that our forefathers were proud of and so could we be.

Re Central Library,

How do you think the unused space could be utilised? What do you mean by 'Heritage Hub' or 'Cultural Centre'?. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think this idea was mooted before. The idea seems to be to carry on with the wholesale destruction of anything of any cultural value, however small. Then set up a display as a memorial and pretend that's the same thing as a respect for heritage.

 

Warrington will soon just be a source of income for the council. Houses. Retail parks. Business parks. And a town centre that is half Golden Square. Half a retail park with multiplex cinema and chain restaurants. With gridlocked roads to connect them and the people responsible in quiet retirement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "Heritage Hub" is the brainchild of Culture Warrington which was quietly featured in the Warrington Guardian on 26 November 2015, it is supposedly going to get funding from the National Lottery Fund but not sure if that's actually confirmed yet? "The sister organisations have today, Thursday, revealed plans to bring the hub to Warrington, in a move which will see the library expand from the Grade II listed building, on Museum Street, into the heart of the town centre next year" - at the time no-one realised the implications. Note the word "expand" this is the famous "Funky Dory" site in Golden Sq the actual figures = "Total area of Funky Dory = 229 sqm (not all Library usage), Central Library total area = 494 sqm + 108 sqm (computers only) = 602 sqm".  This is part of the "empire building" of CW "the construction of a Heritage Hub will add to the existing offer provided by Culture Warrington". Not content with the Pyramid, Parr Hall, Bank Park and the Museum, CW want the computer and lending area of Central Library to allow them to expand - remember LW and CW share a Managing Director, various personnel etc. Read the article, this came out before the Modernisation Review so it didn't ring any alarm bells, unfortunately. By cultural centre I'm suggesting the existing building in the "Cultural Quarter" to be shared with the whole of the Library and the Museum which is what our ancestors envisaged in 1857 when they moved in together. Must admit I have only been told by an ex-employee of the Museum, that there are rooms that are not being used - will have to go in with my tape measure and theodolite to actually confirm this!  

Remember the famous joke "how can you tell if a politician is lying ...his lips move" from the Council Meeting last Monday I felt a glimmer of optimism but until Tony Higgins has "digested" the LW report by possibly, next March, nothing is definite. Suggest you look on the "save warrington libraries" Facebook forum or on here, watch the Steven Broomhead interview plus the Radio Merseyside interview with Tony Snell and tell me how you interpret his words. If another Councillor can't get to see the report as soon as its published there's no hope for Residents to read it!  As usual we are not even sure who is composing the Report and their qualifications to produce an unbiased, intelligent assessment of the over 4000+ responses from the Residents of Warrington. This is why people signed the petition to start again and this time include users, Front-line experienced Library staff, LW, WBC etc!  My participation in consultations was to attend the public meetings and email my feedback to LW.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good luck with it. We know from recent history that unless the people of Warrington act decisively, then the council will believe it can get away with anything.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The crux of the matter is that the assault on Libraries countrywide is coming directly from Govt. The 're-engineering' of libraries, as Steven Broomhead puts it, is basically to change them beyond all recognition, it is privatisation by the back door!

All public services are to be cut even further, the library buildings and trained staff are regarded as wasted resources and the general idea is to sell if possible or at least stop paying for their upkeep. As there is a statutory duty to provide library services some provision must remain, the way around this for them is to invent a new meaning for the term 'library services', thus the terms 'heritage hubs' and 'cultural centres' have emerged.

 

The general idea is to get as many public services into as few buildings as possible, incorporating libraries with community and leisure centres, health outreach programmes and support groups etc. and the funding presently allotted for 'libraries provision' will be leeched off to subsidise the other services.

Whilst the community centres and libraries were once classed as public services and free of charge they are to be turned into profit generating ventures. To help push this 're-engineering' forward the Govt is throwing money at local councils by way of Lottery, Arts Council, Heritage grants etc. all focusing on the new modernisation formats.

(If you want a general idea of what the 'modern' libraries are planned to be, have a quick look on the Arts Council website - face-painted kids running screaming around library bookshelves! horrific!)

The reason WBC are going to take so long to 'digest' the results from the consultation is probably linked to the deadlines for funding applications of these various bodies. Also, though this funding has been made relatively easy to access there are still the stipulations that the projects requiring funding are 'for the benefit of the community' etc. Now if the community protest that it is NOT what they want it's going to be a bit difficult for both WBC

and the funder to justify the grant!

 

Library material is to be digitised, whilst under the pretext to make access easier it is really because legally they can then charge fees to view it. Also museum property can now be sold off so we can look forward to our heritage disappearing into private collections. What is so bad about WBC's plans is that they are not content to just fulfil the Govt's cut making requirement they are throwing themselves into this 're-engineering' with a vengeance! They are going to completely destroy our libraries and are using devious means to do it. Note recently, Culture Warrington claiming Library property and charging the public to view it!

 

As a Labour controlled council they should be ashamed, whilst they were engineering the destruction of our libraries Jeremy Corbyn was attending a protest against the cuts to libraries! They are going to look rather silly if he is elected and they have to undo any damage they have done.

Warrington as a majority controlled Labour council should be shunning cuts to public services and setting an example of what life could be like with Corbyn as the country's Leader.

 

We all know cuts have to be made but with proper consultation and public input we could have a win, win situation. Hopefully Cllr Higgins and others will manage to put the brakes on the ambitions of 'Broomhead the book snatcher!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good luck with it. We know from recent history that unless the people of Warrington act decisively, then the council will believe it can get away with anything.

Yes grey_man, the council do believe that they can get away with anything but we also know from recent history that they can be stopped in their tracks!

Despite all their talk about "lessons have been learned" they obviously didn't learn anything about the Walton Hall sell off fiasco.

They certainly made some blunders there and have certainly made some blunders re the 're-engineering' of the libraries.

Last time they lost the sell off deal of Walton Hall, this time they stand to lose a lot more.

They not only stand to lose all the 're-engineering' funding (not just for the libraries) and possibly a good sum in court costs together with a loss of trust of funders for future projects, there's also the fact that a countrywide hooha and their £multi-million ambitions for City of Culture bid could be well and truly stuffed.

 

I think it would be rather silly of them not to hold friendly talks with the public regarding the libraries.

I think it would be stupid of them not to drop the plans for destroying the interior of Museum St Library forthwith.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Re the talks of a move of the main Warrington library into a more 'central' location can anyone else remember hearing or reading that the library was said to be being moved into the new 'temporary market building' (ie the one that is currently being built in Time Square) once market traders eventually move out from the new temp space and over into the permanent new market place that will evolve in what is now the old Boots building.

I am virtually 100% sure I remember reading that, possibly in some council documents, and I'm sure I remember making comment/reference to it a year or so back too after the new Time Square/Bridge Street development pans were announced but I just can't find any reference to it now.  I certainly didn't imagine it though !

Also, when Live Wire/Culture Warrington held the 'tickets only' event last year where they outlined their plans and visions for the future of the main library building, which I believe also showed their plans for internal renovations, and also the vision for the future of the museum and libraries blah blah WERE THESE VISIONARY PLANS EVER MADE PUBLIC ? 

I had hoped to attend that but despite trying to phone to secure a place the phone was never answered and any messages I left were never returned.  I also emailed but never heard a job back....in the end I actually got the direct email address and phone number for Janice Hayes and contacted her ...only to be told SORRY ALL TICKETS ARE GONE....WE MAY HAVE ANOTHER ONE SOMETIME IN THE FUTURE THOUGH.

So what exactly was said and shown at that meeting and WHY is it not in the public domain by now if only for information ?

I too wonder if that was classed as some sort of consultation process or 'stakeholders' meeting hence the 'tickets only to select few' ......oh cynical me

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Re the talks of a move of the main Warrington library into a more 'central' location can anyone else remember hearing or reading that the library was said to be being moved into the new 'temporary market building' (ie the one that is currently being built in Time Square) once market traders eventually move out from the new temp space and over into the permanent new market place that will evolve in what is now the old Boots building.

Cant say that i have heard anything to that effect but i did post a small tongue in cheek comment  to that effect in the temp market topic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember this Diz. It was said that the 'temporary market' building was at one time being considered as an 'option'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They are going to look rather silly if he (Corbyn) is elected and they have to undo any damage they have done.

Warrington as a majority controlled Labour council should be shunning cuts to public services and setting an example of what life could be like with Corbyn as the country's Leader.

 

Which is why they aren't bothered because Corbyn has less of a chance of being elected prime minister than Nigel Farage has

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember this Diz. It was said that the 'temporary market' building was at one time being considered as an 'option'.

Thanks goodness for that Sha...I thought I must have been imagining things as nobody else seems to remember it..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cant say that i have heard anything to that effect but i did post a small tongue in cheek comment  to that effect in the temp market topic.

I remember your comment Evils but no it wasn't yours as the mention I remember was a year or more before yours when dream plans were all drawn up and ready for approval and put out publicly for comments on their 'vision' for the Time Square development.

 

I remember thinking at the time that you made your comment re similar that you may have just been reminding them of the fact.....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes good news Gary. 

Seems a bit odd though don't you think that they have suddenly scrapped all plans based on public opinion and consultation...I mean when does that ever happen?

I guess there's always a first for everything though.  We shall see :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

A joint statement on behalf of LiveWire and the council, stated: “This report is currently in draft form and awaiting final comments and feedback from both the LiveWire board and senior council officials.

“As the report has not yet been finalised, it would be inappropriate to comment on its findings or recommendations. Further information on the report will be made publicly available in the near future.”

So really they could still have plans to close any library they want and the press statement is just that a statement to appease any ill feeling that the  public have.

 

Cynical? probably.

 

Think it may have been the part that said that the "libraries will continue in some form" that makes me so. After all lockers are current choice they have put forward as a solution in some parts of the area which as far as they are concerned constitutes "some form".

 

Will await with interest the final outcome of the reports recommendations and the actual measures taken to circumvent them, like the join the library and we will sign you up for our gym membership whether you want it or not.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes good news Gary. 

 

Seems a bit odd though don't you think that they have suddenly scrapped all plans based on public opinion and consultation...I mean when does that ever happen?

 

I guess there's always a first for everything though.  We shall see :D

 

In the circumstances Diz, the announcement not to close the libraries is not odd - it has happened because the funding source they are relying on requires 'public consultation' and in this case there is strong opposition from a group who would be certain to challenge the 'effectiveness' of the consultation carried out - thus putting the funding at risk.

That said, I share Sid's cynicism. No real details have yet been announced and no final decisions made. 

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the circumstances Diz, the announcement not to close the libraries is not odd - it has happened because the funding source they are relying on requires 'public consultation' and in this case there is strong opposition from a group who would be certain to challenge the 'effectiveness' of the consultation carried out - thus putting the funding at risk.

That said, I share Sid's cynicism. No real details have yet been announced and no final decisions made. 

No turkeys are going to vote for Christmas :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×