Final chapter? Deadline for commenting on proposal to close library

library

Local residents have very little time left to register their feelings about the Council's proposal to close Alderley Edge library., following the announcement in November that it is under threat as Cheshire East Council is considering closing it in order to save around £50,000 a year.

As previously reported on alderleyedge.com, the future of the village library is under threat as Cheshire East Council is considering closing the three smallest libraries in the borough in order to save money over the next three years.

In November, the Council published it Pre Budget Consultation for 2018-21 which includes closing Alderley Edge, Disley and Prestbury libraries in order to save £150,000 a year.

The consultation period ends today (Friday, 12th January) so anyone wishing to respond to the proposals send their comments to Cheshire East by 5pm today.

Responses can be sent by email to shapingourservices@cheshireeast.gov.uk using the subject reference "Pre Budget Consultation Response: Alderley Edge Library".

Councillor Craig Browne wrote to CEC saying "I am writing to respond to the Pre-Budget Consultation (2018/19) and in particular, the proposal to close Alderley Edge Library at a saving of £72,000 to Cheshire East Council.

"Whilst I fully appreciate the pressure local authorities are under, following the reduction and eventual removal of the Revenue Support Grant from central government, I cannot help but feel that closing public libraries to achieve a relatively insignificant cost saving, would be a retrograde step. I am mindful of the words of the C19th philosopher, Andrew Carnegie, who commented that 'there is not such a cradle of democracy as the free public library. A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people and it is a never failing spring in the desert'.

"The building used by Alderley Edge Library is available to Cheshire East Council at a peppercorn rent and there is also a covenant in place, registered by Alderley Edge Parish Council in 2001, which prevents the building being used for any purpose other than as a public lending library or associated Cheshire (East) County Council service until after the year 2050. I am pleased to attach a copy of this covenant with my consultation response. This being the case, the community of Alderley Edge, led by the Parish Council and myself as the Ward Councillor, have been considering how we might help Cheshire East Council reverse its initial proposal and keep Alderley Edge Library open at a reduced cost.

He continued "In response to my public call for support, approximately 35 residents (one of whom is a qualified, retired librarian) have already come forward to offer their time as volunteers; therefore our proposal is that they are prepared to support one full-time or two part-time paid members of staff (rather than the current three members of staff). This would enable the library to remain open, preferably with extended hours, but with a smaller cost to the Council's staffing budget than is currently the case. With this number of volunteers, each individual volunteer's commitment would be no more than an average of three hours per month, which is both realistic and achievable. As Ward Councillor, I am prepared to lead by example and give an hour a week of my own time.

"A longer term aspiration, is that a smaller group of these residents come together and set up a legal entity, such as a Community Interest Company, Company Limited by Guarantee, or Registered Charity, which could take over the running of the asset from Cheshire East Council; however, setting up the legal entity, establishing a Board of Trustees or Directors, developing a viable business plan and seeking the necessary funding from third party (potentially charitable) sources, as well as training volunteers to offer the services that would need to be delivered from the library, is not something that could be achieved between now and 1st April and in all probability, would take a minimum of two to three years to set up.

"There is a role that Cheshire East Council might play in supporting such a transition; for example, providing legal advice on the setting up of a CIC etc, as well as providing training to the potential volunteers on how to support the librarian in delivering certain library services. Such volunteers would also need DBS clearance and some form of health & safety/first aid training, which again, Cheshire East Council could provide. I hope the leadership of the Council will recognise this proposal as a positive response from the residents of Alderley Edge, to a challenging situation and will support it accordingly. Full details of the list of volunteers can be provided on request."

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Alderley Edge Library
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Sam Cummings
Friday 12th January 2018 at 9:25 am
Email sent! It's a travesty that they'd even consider closing the library - I work full time but I'd throw my name in and donate an hour or two per month to help out!!
Claire MacLeod
Friday 12th January 2018 at 10:11 am
I have also emailed. What a sorry state of affairs. CEC should be ashamed of themselves.
Alan Brough
Friday 12th January 2018 at 4:45 pm
Yes, I've also emailed CEC as well as written to E=McV.

Let's hope that common sense (and decency) prevails.
Sue Trotter
Friday 12th January 2018 at 5:44 pm
Community run libraries can be really successful. Our local library was threatened with closure 4 years ago and a group of enthusiasts took on the fundraising, the community events, the running of the library itself - RESULT = loads of reliable people who enjoy retirement by keeping up their skills or fit in a few hours when the children are at school : It really has been a huge success. Sue (Hull)
Elizabeth Ash
Friday 12th January 2018 at 7:34 pm
Sue Hull, which library are you referring to? I can't for the life of me think of any community-run library that is really successful so details would be useful.

It sounds a daunting task for volunteers to take on fundraising, organising events and running a library and I really cannot imagine how this could be more successful than a properly staffed, funded and staffed library, hence my interest.
Fiona Doorbar
Saturday 13th January 2018 at 7:36 am
Elizabeth, I think Sue Trotter is from Hull!
This is such a shame but really is a sign of the times imo. I seldom use the library and my two sons never. Everything is available online.
Alan Brough
Saturday 13th January 2018 at 11:00 am
With respect Fiona, there are a significant group of elderly people for whom “online” is not an option.

The Library also hosts Mums and toddler reading groups where children make their first contact with books and pictures.

And then there are people like me who , for whatever reason, find holding a book and turning a paper page quite enthralling - and the thought of “reading” a tablet quite disconcerting.

It may we’ll be that you and your family don’t use the Library, but then me and mine have no interest in (for example) skateparks.

That doesn’t mean that I would support the Council in removing skateparks from the boroughs parks and playing fields. On the contrary, they are a valuable recreational amenitythat we have paid handsomely for and should be preserved.
Fiona Doorbar
Saturday 13th January 2018 at 4:29 pm
Hi Alan, Why is online 'not an option'?..... My parents (both oap's) shop online, bank online and read online. I acknowledge your comment re. Mums and toddlers and it would be a shame for them but I have worked with pre school kids in nurseries for a number of years and sadly most little ones gravitate towards screen based activities rather than sitting with a book. In fact they recently were very disappointed when a laptop being used was not touchscreen!
Not sure why you have brought up skateparks as anything relevant to this thread tbh.
Maybe you are in the minority on this one. As the saying goes....you have to move with the times.
Sam Cummings
Monday 15th January 2018 at 12:04 pm
Online isn't an option for quite a few people - whilst I'm sure there are some from the older generation who are internet savvy there are many who aren't. There are also a lot of people who find reading physical books much better (me, for one! I refuse e-books!) and a lot of people who enjoy using local amenities. Again; I buy books or borrow books locally instead of using online facilities because online stores don't help local business. Moving with the times isn't always the best option; going with the flow is sometimes detrimental to people's living and if we, the consumer, don't use our power and influence to help our communities what's the point?!
Susan Parker
Monday 15th January 2018 at 1:38 pm
I would be interested to see statistics on how many books are lent by the library. My impression is it is not used by many people, although I concede that the rather random opening hours won't be helping.
Craig Browne
Monday 15th January 2018 at 2:37 pm
Hi Susan,

Unfortunately, I do not have details of the number of books lent; however, I do have details of the number of visits to the library over the last three years, which are as follows:

2016/17 - 19,583
2015/16 - 25,057
2014/15 - 29,822

Of course, libraries, like other organisations, have had to adapt and both now and in the future will need to offer a range of services above and beyond the lending of books.

I do agree with you that the current rather random opening hours do not help and if we are able to keep the library going with the support of volunteers, extending the core opening hours is something we would like to address.

Kind regards,
Craig
Ian Cook
Monday 15th January 2018 at 11:10 pm
It was discussed recently on national radio the possibility of other services sharing the use of the many underused public buildings, how about a police counter - not sure if Wilmslow is still open or if Crewe/macclesfield is our nearest manned police desk, what about a council help desk, could you run your surgery there?

I'm sure others could suggest services they would like to see use the building, rather than it become another restaurant or bar.

Use it or lose it used to be said a lot......so Let's not lose our library.
Kriss Coombes
Tuesday 16th January 2018 at 3:38 pm
I have been an oap for decades now and thoroughly enjoy my visits to the local library, not only to borrow books, but to read the newspapers and use other facilities. I value my computer, but as I encourage my grandchildren to get out and about rather than 'screen stare' in isolation, I too acknowledge the need for older people to get out into their communities.
If Fiona thinks we should "Move with the times", does that mean that all libraries are redundant and therefore should be closed?
With a covenant in place these premises may remain empty and how sad that would be?
Bob Bracegirdle
Tuesday 16th January 2018 at 4:00 pm
My local library in my former village in Leicestershire successfully went volunteer run and does well. Books are indeed still our route to the best of our civilisation. Don’t let anyone divert you from this truth.
Natalie Husdan
Wednesday 17th January 2018 at 12:00 am
Think Alan Brough’s analogy is pretty simple to understand - just because you don’t use the library doesn’t mean it isn’t of local value.

Alderley Library is a brilliant small modern library that anyone bothering to visit before commenting would know. Does anyone seriously still think a library only loans books these days?! It loans DVDs, CDs, audio books, provides internet access, fax, printing (and help with this tech) - all sorts of ‘modern’ gadgets for locals to use if they can’t afford their own or don’t need their own, it’s a place for locals to sit in quiet and read the papers for free, with various activities organised for all ages, but perhaps most importantly - activities for young children and their carers where they can gather, indoors, at no cost, and sing songs, play instruments, read stories, listen to stories, play lego, do arts & crafts etc etc.

Kids love screen time. Just like they love sweets. It means introducing books and other non-screen activities to them from age dot even more important, not just giving them sweets. But hey they can pick up a DVD on a visit too!
Michael Hargreaves
Wednesday 17th January 2018 at 12:55 pm
I can only endorse what has been said in the comments on the importance of retaining the Library - it is a valuable asset to the village in a superb position for access for all ages. Books are not going out of fashion and we should do all we can to encourage children to read and create a lifetime interest in traditional books!

In addition the Library serves a useful aid to those who need help with IT issues and there are many people who value such help. It is a "go to" place for many and if we lose it it is gone for ever.

Put our names on the list for volunteers!

Mike and Judy Hargreaves
Glenn Hudson
Thursday 18th January 2018 at 5:52 am
It would be a real shame if the library were to close. It is however symptomatic of the differences between the Public and Private sector. ‘It’s used by a lot of people, is valuable for those who like physical books, it does a lot more than just lend books, better this than another bar etc etc’. The reality is that usage has dropped from 29k to 19k in just two years. At this rate nobody would be using it in another two. Why not have someone work out why it’s dropped so alarmingly (think we know already) fix it and then find additional things to do with the site - as some on here have already sensibly suggested. At the moment, were it a private business it would be viewed as haemorrhaging ‘customers’ it appears to have no suppport from those that purport to use it and it would be shut down. Those that want to keep it open should do something practical. (Other than complain)
Jon Williams
Thursday 18th January 2018 at 9:50 am
It's a shame no one has mentioned the unemployed who may not have internet access at home, the library provides this and is needed for "Universal Credit" as well.
Duncan Herald
Thursday 18th January 2018 at 1:23 pm
£500,000 p.a. to be saved by closing the three libraries; how much of that would be 'real' savings and how much of it would be 'paper' savings?

£160,000 paid out to suspended people this year (and on-going?).

Funny old juxta-position of sums eh? Just saying!
Alan Brough
Friday 19th January 2018 at 11:46 am
@ Glenn Hudson,

I don't think that you we reasonably use a business argument for something that is a public service.

If that were the case then most schools, libraries, museums, art galleries, and other places of public learning would close because someone could find something more lucrative to do with the space.

Libraries contribute to the education and well-being of the community as has been demonstrated here, and who are we to deny those that have visited over nineteen thousand times, the service?

Regarding practical support instead of "moaning" (I prefer to see it as objection) - a number of people both here and on other sites have offered their support in staffing the Library voluntarily to keep it open - given that they have already paid for the service through their taxes, I think that's a very commendable commitment.