Cross party support indicates library may be saved
In anticipation of Thursday's cabinet meeting where the future use of Bristol Central Library basement will be decided, Green councillors are putting up a final fight to stop the process.
What started out as a community and Green-led battle, has now gained cross party support, after a scrutiny commission uncovered deep issues with both the school facilities and the alternative archive access proposed.
"Since day one Greens have opposed the takeover of central library archive services. Our libraries and the reference materials they provide are precious and must not be a victim of the cuts. We welcome the cross party support this issue has now gained, and hope the mayor will make the right decision for the future of our city and its history. Once you've lost a public resource of great worth you've lost it for good," said Tess Green, councillor for Southville ward.
Issues about the suitability of the library basement for school facilities are being raised in Green statements to the Cabinet. These concerns include the limited indoor light and outdoor access for children, and suitability of the Grade 1 listed building to be converted for school use.
Rob Telford, Green councillor for Ashley ward and member of the council's Children & Young People's scrutiny commission said,
"There are serious concerns about the long-term effects of lack of natural light on children and their ability to learn. Additionally, there is not the space at the site for children to be able to access both indoor and outdoor play areas. Physical recreation is crucial for our children's well-being and for the development of their social and team skills."
"It is also imperative that the 270,000 items of archive material stored in the Central Library are still able to be accessed by library users in a central and convenient location for research. Many library users will not yet have the skills or access to find materials online. There are also solid architectural and historical reasons why maintaining a store in the Central Library is the best use of the building."
Green councillors also pointed out that the community consultation on the disposal of this public asset has been almost non existent. They further highlighted the issue that the lease rate being proposed is far below market average.
"Giving away our library archive at this low rate, and the poor contractual arrangements proposed, are a travesty. The Cathedral School must look elsewhere for more appropriate solutions," added Daniella Radice, Green group leader on Bristol City Council.
Statements of opposition to the proposal from Green Party members have been submitted to cabinet.
1. The decision as to whether to lease the basement of Bristol Central Library to the Cathedral School is being taken by the Mayor at the cabinet meeting this Thursday 5 December, in City Hall, from 6.30.
2. Statements submitted to tomorrow's Cabinet meeting on this issue from Green Party members Julie Boston and Cllr Rob Telford are also attached. Rob Telford's statement can also be accessed online here: http://robertjessetelford.com/blog/?p=409
3. A photograph of Bristol Green Party and other community members demonstrating outside the library on 5 August, 2013, is attached.
4. Minutes from the Bristol neighbourhoods and communities scrutiny commission on this topic are available at http://lovebristollibraries.wordpress.com