Why would you close a Public library? – Aston residents speak up for their Library

(from the Aston Ward Committee in June)

Going from house to house and standing outside the Tescos at Witton over a thousand signatures were collected demanding that Aston Library remain open. Throughout the summer and autumn parents and local residents of Aston  have collected the signatures.

There have been many different responses from the public when told that Aston Library is to close, but here are the most repeated:

Why would you close a Public library?

Our children go there afer school and use the library for their homework

It is a long walk for our children to the other library and major roads have to be crossed

I used that library when I was at school why should today’s children be denied that opportunity!

After pushing Councillor’s earlier in the year residents managed to get the closure of the Library put back from September until 2015.

Aston residents presented the completed petition to Aston Ward Committee on 18th November calling for Aston Library to remain permanently open. Over a thousand people had signed the petition which was received by Aston Councillors Mohammad Afzal, Nagina Kauser and Ziaul Islam.

Things got a little more lively when two residents pressed the issue of the library closure and were told that all the councillors were opposed to the closure of Aston Library.

It seems however that the petition would not be discussed at Ward , District or Council level unless it had 2000 signatures. This prevents the few ordinary concerns which are raised from members of the public being aired and could be said to be a sign of how little representation there is on these bodies.

The ward meeting ended in a discussion of the Green Paper which is setting out the cuts scenario for the City Council for 2015-16. There are likely to be proposals from the Council in the next few months to set up a mutual structure for the libraries which would be arms length management in a co-operative structure with fewer staff and cuts to the service itself.

After a lot of hand wringing about how awful the cuts were and Eric Pickles role in this as Minister for Local Government it was pointed out that the Labour Party would carry out the same level of cuts albeit in a more equally distributed way. The other point that was made was that the council could have led the opposition to the cuts by organising protests and public meetings.

The Councillors response to this was that it was too”political” and would have got them surcharged. There was some sympathy from the audience to the fact that more could have been done to protest.

We are going to a second round of the fight to protect our library services. As someone said it’s not over til it’s over. Watch this Space!

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