The Southport Visiter carries an important story this morning. I have never had a moments doubt about the need for the council to provide a temporary Library whilst the essential renovation of the Cultural Centre-the Art Gallery, Arts Centre and Library-takes place . I know there are some who think that we can make do with a caravan in a car park like some remote village in countryside. I have never thought that was acceptable. There were over 150,000 visits to the Southport Library last year and frankly anyone who thinks that can be replaced by a trailer somewhere or farmed out to Formby is not listening to townsfolk. Yes, in tough financial times there are going to be some hard questions to answer. Something else will have to give. It is a matter of priorities.
I went on the trip last Friday and at the end it was clear to me there was a stark choice. If we want a temporary Library then the Market site is the only realistic option. It does of course bring real benifits to the remaining market traders. Firstly it brings an immediate fix to the building -upgrading the structure, electrics etc and secondly it brings a massively increased footfall. I guess lots of folk going to the Library will use the cafe there to get refreshment whilst they browse their books.
For the wider Southport residents it gives us a town centre Library that can take all the key facilities and offer a proper service during the closure. This is not a short closure. It is meant to last 30 months. Given my experience with other major building works-especially old buildings like these -it would come as no surprise if the time scale was longer.