Friday, 20 May 2011
View from the Civic Hall
Our local library’s faith was sealed on Wednesday, when the Executive Board of the Leeds City Council met to vote on the recommendations. COVEN was present at the meeting, in order to follow up a campaign that we fought consistently, through involvement with the community, through our representation to the Leeds City Council and through this blog.
The good news from the meeting was that NOT all libraries earmarked for closure are going to be closed down. Communities all over Leeds fought to keep their libraries open and some succeeded. We didn’t.
Our neighbourhood is going to lose a very important resource, another one of a number of services closing down in the area, with purpose-built buildings increasingly left boarded up, such as the former Day Centre and soon, the hostel on Walter Crescent. Furthermore, as Cllr Golton noted at the meeting, the position of the mobile libraries brought in instead, will not match geographically the location of the library, leaving communities south of York Road without easy access to them.
Councillors from different wards commented on their localities’ needs but, unfortunately, none of our three councillors had anything to say on our behalf.
So, in our area, the library service will provide “targeted” children’s and family mobile services to the new Richmond Hill school, with a computer suite in the newly extended community centre. But although there will also be “fortnightly” mobiles for older people and weekly children’s mobiles, the mobile provision will be located in the part of Richmond Hill on the left of the railway, leaving the whole of East End Park, including the AllSaints’ primary school without any access to a library!!!
One other thing that felt really wrong was the councillors in the meeting, congratulating themselves on a “detailed” consultation. We have previously voiced our concerns over the nature of the consultation, but more problems with it emerged during the meeting. One of the main contributors in the consultation project was the Citizens’ Panel, which is mentioned often in the documents, sometimes having backed council proposals up to 90%. Only it turns out, as Cllr Carter noted, only 25% of the Citizens’ Panel questionnaires were returned!
So, when for example it is stated that “77% ( of the panel) agreed that the council should consolidate the number of libraries it has” in order to improve the quality, we are talking about the 77% of the 25%. You do the maths...