The next stop in our campaign to support Birmingham’s community libraries is a rally at West Heath. As we pointed out last week, all of these libraries are under threat in the current review of local services by Birmingham City Council, which is seeking to make substantial cuts to all of its budgets.
The fact that a number of planned closures were withdrawn in 2014-15 after local petitioning does not mean that all of these services are safe, merely that Birmingham City Council is taking a very long time to come to decisions on their future.
Our Saturday sessions include leafleting to raise public awareness and a reading of relevant extracts from The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. This is the legislation which imposes a duty on local authorities to provide adequate and accessible library services.
The session at West Heath will also be a protest rally.
The library closed in March 2014 due to the “unsafe” nature of the building. In May 2014, following big rally outside the library and a subsequent demonstration around West Heath a promise was given to build a new library on the site of the old one (Cllr O’Reilly – Labour). It was announced at the Northfield Ward Committee in late 2014 (Cllr Brew – Conservative) that the new library would be re-built and open for business around October 2015.
The library was demolished in spring of 2015. There was then a long period of silence, until recently, when Birmingham City Council Cabinet initiated a consultation (closes on 30 April) on what emerged as its preferred choice, namely not to build a new library at West Heath but to relocate the library service in part of Oddingley Hall, which is in Kings Norton. A sorry saga.
The rally will be held at the site of the now demolished West Heath Library, The Fordrough, West Heath, Birmingham B31 3LX. It is opposite Tesco Express, a short walk from Northfield station. Bus routes are 19 (nearest), 27, 45, 47,49.
Do come. If you would be interested in helping at a similar session at your local library, please let us know.