Litherland Library – A call to save it

Readers of this blog site will know how I and my Lib Dem colleagues have tried to save the 7 threatened libraries in Sefton from Labour’s axe. 3 Library campaign groups in Southport (Churchtown, Birkdale & Ainsdale) together with one in Aintree have recently been putting together plans to run the libraries in a different way to try to save them. So far only Aintree seems to be making headway under the leadership of my good friends Peter Gill and Terry Baldwin and the team they have put together. I am not sure what has happened to the campaign to save College Road Library in Crosby.

Sadly, the picture continues to look bleak other than for Aintree at present.

This was our Lib Dem Team campaigning outside Litherland Library earlier this year

This was our Lib Dem Team campaigning outside Litherland Library earlier this year

I say all this by means of an update and I also publish below a plea for Litherland Library (built in 1937) which came my way very recently following someone now living many miles away hearing of the demise of his old library in Litherland. It is in the form of a letter to the Leader of the Council.

Shelving with style at Litherland library

Shelving with style at Litherland library

*****

I owe Litherland Library an incalculable debt of gratitude. As a child it was a treasure trove, sparking a love of books, opening my eyes to the world and fostering an intellectual curiosity which has remained with me throughout my life.

Litherland and Linacre wards include some of the most severely deprived urban communities – not just in Sefton, but in the whole of Britain – on a range of measures including child poverty and adult educational attainment.

A good library is widely acknowledged to be far more than simply a repository for books. Far more, even, than a social and information hub – important as that is in many less privileged communities. More than forty years in primary education have convinced me – if I had any doubt – that a well-run library with an imaginative programme of activities from pre-school story groups, to author visits and senior citizen reminiscence – can change lives.

An accessible, local library is an engine for aspiration and social mobility.

It is heartening that so many communities within Sefton have sprung into action with imaginative proposals to preserve affordable library services in their area. Nowhere in the borough needs and deserves a thriving local library more than the communities around Litherland Library. It would be a tragedy if, for want of foresight and imagination, future generations were to be deprived of a facility which has served the community so well for almost eighty years.

The Leader of the Council has expressed his willingness to listen. Even at this late stage it is not too late to reconsider.

Carved stone above the door to Litherland Library

Carved stone above the door to Litherland Library

Aintree Davenhill – Official Reopening following rebuild

rsz_photo0176

I was delighted to be invited to the formal reopening ceremony yesterday in the presence of the Countess of Wessex. Whilst I no longer represent Aintree Village I am told that my efforts in pushing for the School’s rebuild were remembered.

When I was first elected to serve Molyneux Ward (which includes Aintree Village) in 1999 I picked this up as a major issue to be pursued along with the rebuilding of the Oriel Drive GP practice building. Thankfully both have been successfully completed.

I met with Sefton’s then Director of Education in 1999 and followed it up with further lobbying at every opportunity. Finally, the pushing and shoving worked but the real effort was made by Aintree Ratepayers Association and Aintree Parish Council all I did was to get those in control of the local purse strings to take notice and prioritise the School’s rebuild.

The event yesterday was a great success with much singing by the children of Davenhill. A good day indeed.

People who have influenced me

The other day I got into conversation about who influences you as you grow up and develop outside of the family. It makes you think about who you are and why you are who you are.

At school my fondest memory is for Jack Petty, a Southport man who taught history, geography and craft subjects in my early years at Ormonde Drive Secondary Modern School in Maghull  (now grandly known as Maghull High School). Jack, if I understood properly, left the forces after WWII and simply became a teacher. I guess he was not carrying huge qualifications yet he was the best teacher I ever had. Kind, engaging and encouraging are the words that come to mind; I learned a lot from Jack.

In politics the late great David PenhaligonLiberal MP for Truro is probably top of the pile and if anyone wants to read an uplifting and very human book I would recommend the one written after David’s untimely death by his widow Annett Penhaligon entitled simply PENHALIGON. I still remember the announcement of his death in a road crash on 22nd December 1986 like it was yesterday. A truly great man and a politician loved by all who met him.

Ludovic Kennedy’s writings have also been a significant influence on me. His books on religion (All in the mind – A farewell to God), crime (A presumption of innocence) and Scottish history (In bed with an elephant) are great reads. And as a railway buff I can’t forget his Great Railway Journey across America for BBC TV.

Many others have influenced me over the years such as Andrew Beattie and Peter Gibson. They are not well known and sadly Andrew died suddenly in 1999 but they, at a personal and local level, probably had just as much influence on me as did the two more famous politicians mentioned above and dear Jack Petty the school teacher.