Sunday, 10 January 2010

TEMPORARY LIBRARY CAMPAIGN - UPDATE

Last Wednesday’s Area Committee meeting discussed the issue of a need for a temporary replacement library for Southport over the next 3 years.

We had a 7000-strong petition passionately presented by a local resident, Mrs Paddy McNeish, calling for Southport Indoor Market to be used as a temporary home.

The petition was followed by a debate on a motion moved by my colleague, Birkdale Councillor Richard Hands. Richard called on Sefton’s Cabinet to reverse its previous decision not to provide a temporary town centre Library for Southport residents.

Regular Birkdale Focus Blog readers will recall that Conservative and Labour councillors keep attempting to defend their decision to vote against the “Library within a Market” proposal because of what they say would be the cost. The figure of £500,000 has misleadingly been bandied about. We have challenged this constantly.

We have done some detailed research and have always said that the real figure cannot be anywhere near this amount. To give just one example: no mention has been made of the Lord Street library savings during its closure e.g. rates, cleaning, maintenance, heating etc.

So it was good to have public confirmation last Wednesday night in an answer to a question submitted by a member of the public, that council officers now acknowledge that the “savings of closing Southport library are £54,550 per annum.” Over the nearly 3 years of closure that means something approaching £150,000 will be saved.

Richard’s motion referred to these savings, and pointed out that they could be used to cover most or all of the costs of a temporary Library in the Indoor Market.

Anyway, Richard’s motion was passed overwhelmingly, by 12 votes to 1. All 6 Conservatives abstained, which was a little odd. In one way it represented progress, as previously there have always voted against a temporary Library.

The matter now goes to the Cabinet next Thursday and we must only hope that at least one of the Conservatives sees sense. Last time it was lost 6 to 4.

We only need the one Southport Conservative who sits on the Cabinet to take account of the weight of public opinion, and switch their vote, and the vote will then be 5 - 5. We would then win on the Chair's casting vote.

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