Tomorrow evening we find out whether one of Sefton Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committees is willing to ask the all powerful Labour-run Cabinet to think again over its decision not to allow community groups to take over the running of Aintree and College Road Libraries.
My view is that the decision of the Cabinet was not sound and that it should be reconsidered.
I popped into one of the closing libraries today and my eye fell upon the book pictured below. It seems rather an apt title considering the recent turn of events.
Above is a link to BBC iplayer and yesterday evening’s programme which had a slot about the axe hanging over Crosby and Aintree Libraries. The item is just over half way through the programme after the fracking item.
MP Bill Esterson did not look at all comfortable when interviewed, during the programme, but then again it’s his own Labour councillors doing the library closures.
I mentioned in a recent posting about Sefton’s appalling library closure programme that I had been to York this summer and had become aware of what that Council is doing to try to bring the costs of running its libraries within the available budget.
York’s solution is innovative and seemingly really positive as its aim is just the opposite of Labour run Sefton. In Sefton Labour is closing 7 libraries unless community groups wish to save them and they are doing it in some of the poorest communities in the Borough! In York the Labour run Council are trying to keep the network of libraries up and running; closing them seems to be the last thing on that Council’s mind!
The unique café/library in York’s Rowntree Park
A visit to Rowntree Park in York brought all this to my attention because in that lovely park (which is similar to say to Botanic Gardens or Hesketh Park in Southport) there is a relatively new an innovative facility. It is a café which also doubles as a form of library. It seemed to be hugely popular with park users and with parents of young children in particular as they were in and around it drinking coffee whilst reading to their youngsters. A really fascinating leaning and relaxation experience for all.
But what I also learned via a string of detailed information posters placed in this café/library was that York was setting up a new way of running all its libraries called a Community Benefit Society, in effect a charitable company/organisation.
There was huge amount of information and if I understood it all properly library staff and library users were really up for giving it a go. But what has really got my goat is that Labour run Sefton refused to look at such options that library groups and indeed we Lib Dems have been suggesting where volunteers and paid staff work together to deliver quality library services.
OK it may not work but why on earth simply plump from closures of Libraries without in communities across Sefton without trying out such an innovative solution? Oh, the narrow mindedness of socialism in Sefton really is so stifling!