The now closed former College Road Library in Crosby is of course a Carnegie Library and it’s a building of some merit. So sad to see it stranding there empty. Out of the shot is a Sefton Council ‘To Let’ sign.
It’s not so long ago (2012) that a fierce community-based campaign was run to save the library from closure – I covered the campaign on this blog site – see link below:-
I really do hope that a useful purpose can be found for this listed building, a long slow decline with minimum maintenance would be a terrible end.
The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above
Fighting for Southport’s Libraries
If you type in ‘Sefton’ in the box on the BBC web site article to gain information about your own local authority the following comes up:-
In Sefton since 2010 seven libraries and/or mobile libraries have closed. In 2010 there were 137 paid staff in libraries, compared with 58 now. The council had 80 unpaid volunteers in 2010 and has 164 volunteers today.
Now then the interesting and probably astounding thing here (assuming the BBC information is correct) is that the number of volunteers working in Sefton’s remaining libraries has risen substantially over the past 6 years, indeed it has doubled! But why is this a surprise? Well back in the turmoil of Bootle Labour closing Sefton’s libraries 2 or 3 years ago they made it very clear that they did not want volunteers helping to run libraries! The link below is to pertinent blog posting of mine from back in 2014:-
So where does this leave us? The big questions are:-
* Has Labour-run Sefton ditched its opposition to library volunteers? If so when did they make this most welcome policy shift?
* If the volunteers wanting to take over the running of Aintree and College Road Libraries were unacceptable, why was this the case when the Council has seemingly gone on to recruit other volunteers?
* Why were Bootle Labour so opposed to the volunteers running closing libraries in the first place? Or is it more subtle than that in that some volunteers are deemed to be OK whilst others were deemed to be the opposite?
The murky world of Labour-run Sefton Council means we will probably not be getting any answers soon. And that is so sad.
Lib Dem campaigners fighting Labour’s library axe in 2013
The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above
Well this is a seemingly welcome initiative in Liverpool and it shines Sefton’s Labour rulers in a very poor light indeed as they simply shut libraries in the Borough despite calls for innovative volunteer alternatives to be taken on board.
To this day I can’t get my head around the stubborn refusal of Sefton’s Labour-run Council who just would not embrace and encourage volunteer-run alternatives to library closures.
The story of Liverpool City Council handing some of its libraries over to volunteers is on the Liverpool Echo web site – see link above.
Every time I see a Council handing over its libraries to volunteers to run I say why were Sefton Labour so determined not to allow volunteers to run its closing libraries? It is clearly not a Labour Party thing to keep volunteers at arms length nationally so why in Labour run Sefton?
The article above on the BBC web site shows yet again why volunteers in Sefton should have been given the chance to run the libraries that our Labour-run council had decided to close. In the case above – accessible via the link – it is a Tory run Council but interestingly Labour’s Shadow Culture Minister Chris Bryant is not condemning them for putting the libraries under the control of volunteers. So opposing volunteers running libraries is clearly not a national Labour policy.
Lib Dems fighting for Sefton’s Libraries
All we really know about Sefton Labour’s anti-volunteer vote is that they said they did not want volunteers to run the libraries. They have never made a coherent argument for adopting this stance but they did hide behind a Sefton Council-made process via which the volunteers allegedly did not pass go so to speak.
There were two very credible bids from volunteer groups to run Aintree and College Road (Crosby) Libraries; both were told to sling their hooks.
Come on Labour let’s hear from you saying clearly why you opposed giving volunteers a chance. Do you just oppose library volunteers or is your policy one of opposing volunteers helping to run council services generally? If its just that you have a problem with library volunteers why is that?
The BBC has the story – see link above
Having worked with campaigners across the Borough of Sefton who were trying to stop the closure of many branch libraries I am left scratching my head. Why can Labour-run Liverpool City Council save its libraries from closure whilst in neighbouring Sefton Borough not only did the Labour-run Council close more than half of its libraries but it also stopped volunteers from running closed libraries too.
Sadly this placard could also read ‘NO’ to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!
I realise that Liverpool Labour Mayor Joe Anderson was put under a great deal of pressure in Liverpool, not least by Liverpool Lib Dems and Liverpool residents, to back-off from his closure plans but that sort of pressure was also put on Sefton Council’s Labour rulers.
We all know that Council’s are short of money these days but if you can keep a strong and vibrant library network in Liverpool you can surely keep one in next door Sefton.
And for joyful reactions to the saving of Liverpool’s libraries see this link to the Liverpool Echo site:-