Libraries – Their future being planned rather than simply axed as in Sefton?

Lib Dem campaigners fighting Labour's library axe in 2013

Lib Dem campaigners fighting Labour’s library axe in 2013

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/former-hillsborough-independent-panel-civil-9935953

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.

rsz_protesting_about_library_closures_-_southport

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.

Liverpool saves its libraries, so why did Sefton close its libraries?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-29985668

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!

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:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/pictures-liverpool-users-react-news-8086020

Labour – There’s a lot to protest about in Sefton!

There have been a quite a number of public protests in recent years across the Borough of Sefton against things like:-

The Post Office closure programme pursued under the last Labour Government which saw Maghull and Lydiate having 4 Post Offices axed:- Below are Lib Dem protestors fighting for the former Coronation Road Post Road Post Office in Lydiate.

rsz_protesting_about_labours_post_office_closures_in_lydiate

Labour-run Sefton Council’s plan to close public toilets across the Borough. This fight was won by campaigners like those pictured below:-

rsz_toilet_campaign_02_13_lab

Labour’s £46 Green Bin tax for Sefton. This was fought off in the Summer of 2013 but the comrades are expected to try to bring it back once again having only deferred it:- Cllr. Bruce Hubbard is pictured below with his massive petition against the green bin tax which caused Labour to lose 2 council by-elections to the Lib Dems in Maghull.

rsz_bruce_green_bin_petition_pile

Building on Sefton’s Green Belt. Labour have got into big trouble over this by saying they would defend it whilst voting to build on it! Talk about being found out! Below are environment protestors lobbying a Sefton Council meeting at Maghull Town Hall. They were ignored!

rsz_green_belt_protestors_outside_maghull_th_06_06_13

The photo above is amongst my Flickr shots at:-
www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

A petition against building on Green Belt being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council.

A petition against building on Green Belt being presented to Cllr. Dave Russell Chairman of Lydiate Parish Council.

Then there’s the hugely unpopular library closure programme pursued by Sefton Labour Party on the Council. 7 Libraries have been closed and Labour have even refused to let volunteer community groups run two of the closed libraries!

Sadly this placard could also read 'NO' to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

Sadly this placard could also read ‘NO’ to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

rsz_protesting_about_library_closures_-_southport

The photo above was taken outside Southport Town hall as protestors tried to save 3 libraries in the Town from closure. Sadly, like the Green Belt protestors, they were ignored.

Lib Dem campaigners fighting Labour's library axe

Lib Dem campaigners fighting Labour’s library axe

Yes, there is a lot to protest about in the Bootle-dominated, Labour-run socialist republic of Sefton.

SAVE OUR LIBRARIES – I brief look at the innovative York solution

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

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!

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