Residents demonstrate against Stockton Heath libary closure

Stockton Heath residents demonstrate in numbers to oppose proposals to close their library at the Parish Council's meeting.

Approximately 30 residents made their way down to Sandy Lane Centre to have their voices heard over the threat to the future of the local libary.

The residents who attended the meeting had the support of each parish councillor, and members agreed to write to council leader 'Cllr Terry O'Neill and LiveWire' to make their objections known.

Parish councillors advise all residents who want to save Stockton Heath Library to send an e-mail to senior councillors, to respond to the LiveWire consultation, to sign the public petition and to join the 'Save Warrington's Libraries' Facebook group to 'pile on the pressure' in order to get the 'terrible plans dropped'.

Labour parish councillor Nick Bent said: "It was good to see the public gallery full and to hear a whole range of passionate arguments to save our libraries.”

He further meationed

"Regardless of party affiliation, all of us parish councillors gave residents 100 per cent support and together I believe we can win this.”

He further explaines

"The executive board of the council and the board of LiveWire need to kill these dreadful proposals stone dead, right now."

The Petition to halt the closure of nine libraries in the town racked up more than 1,000 signatures following the first public meeting between LiveWire and library users in Stockton Heath.The founder of the campaign is childminder Dina Kingsnorth-Baird who stated that children who are home schooled would be especially affected by the closures.

She said: “People are worried about losing their library buildings. They want a place to be able to browse real books within a real community.”

Dina further explains that libraries are ‘priceless’ places for young people to discover the world of books and criticised the plans to replace the facilities with lending lockers.

There was standing-room earlier this week at a public meeting at Stockton Heath Library, as LiveWire started a 30 day public consultation.

The neighbourhood wellbeing company has had success in increasing participation and memberships in integrated library sites since it took over the management of 11 libraries in Warrington in 2012, but stand-alone library sites have continued to see a decline in lending and memberships in line with the national trend.

Since 2010, library visits have decreased by an average of 32% at all libraries in Warrington with the exception of integrated hub libraries in Orford and Woolston which have seen visits increase by an average of 96% over the last six years.

As a result of this and funding cuts to library services from central government, LiveWire and Warrington Borough Council are looking at alternative ways to improve library and learning provision so it is cost effective and more accessible.

Going back to Diana, she explains to us the people of Stockton Heath want somewhere where they can read and browse with out having to go Online:

“They want a place to be able to browse real books within a real community,” she said.

*Join the Face Book group to show your support

Dina further added: “Bin your proposals to close, move and water down Warrington’s libraries. Instead, commit to retain all existing libraries, consult with the public and community groups on ways to involve even more community groups in to existing libraries and do more to publicly promote and celebrate the many activities already on offer across the network.

Public libraries across Warrington are under threat. The plans propose that some libraries are closed, others replaced with “lockers” and others moved from their current location to shopping centres.

Libraries offer easy access to books and information to all of us, and a priceless space for young people to be absorbed in to the world of books. But libraries are about more than books. They also act as important community hubs – spaces in which the community can come together for events and spaces to meet, open to all no matter who they are or where they come from. They are a treasured and valuable asset to any community. Let’s be proud to be a town with fantastic, community libraries.”

A spokesperson from LiveWire, said:“We understand that the public are going to have strong views on the proposals for the modernisation of LiveWire and during the 30 day consultation period, we would encourage residents to give their views and comments either via attending the formal consultation sessions, sending their views to or dropping them off in writing to any LiveWire site.”

We Hope the Council and LiveWire really think this through as these historic libaries serve communities with infrastucture aswell as extra curricullar learning. They have been a symbol within society dating back 100's of years and to shut them based on figures relating to use, the reality is modernisation aswell as advertising can help balance these issues.

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