REDDITCH Labour Party is calling for a full public consultation to be held with local people on future services at the town centre library.
Party members Joe Baker and Joanna Kane presented a petition signed by 1,870 people, headlined ‘Keep our library at the heart of Redditch – with a guaranteed plan and full services’ to Worcestershire County Council, which is responsible for library services in the county, earlier this month.
It followed public concern about proposals to demolish the library with £4.2million of Government Town Deal money.
In an email sent on behalf of Councillor Matt Dormer, Leader of Redditch Borough Council and Worcestershire County Council cabinet member with responsibility for communities, the county council said there was ‘no intention of reducing the library offer’.
However, Labour says it doesn’t promise that all existing services will be protected or that there will be an open consultation with residents.
“While we welcome the commitment to delivering a wide range of services, the response doesn’t tell us if the library will be relocated and if so, where,” said Joe Baker.
“We’re listening to residents who are very concerned about the future of their library services, so we’re calling on Worcestershire County Council to hold a full public consultation as soon as possible for local people to have their say.”
Joanna Kane added: “There is no guarantee that the number of books, public access computers or archives will be maintained in a new location, or that a relocated library will be equivalent in size, space and facilities.
“We still haven’t seen a viable plan showing that the future location of the library and its services will be at least as good as the existing service, and how this will be funded in the long term.
“We would also like to know what information has been communicated to the Government following their request for more detail on the Town Deal bid, as they too were seeking answers on how residents will be able to access library services after the building is demolished.”
In a reply sent in response to the petition, Coun Dormer, through the County Council, said: “Firstly, I would like to reassure you, the County Council is committed to delivering a full range of services from Redditch Library to meet the needs of local residents.
“Far from reducing library provision, the County Council is working to expand the library service offer to meet a wider range of council priorities and community needs. This remains the case in Redditch and across Worcestershire.
“Officers, from both the Borough and County Councils, are working closely to develop a more detailed plan and set of requirements for the re-located library which will ensure it remains a high quality, modern, accessible community space, delivering a wide range of services with both new and existing partners, to meet the needs of Redditch residents.
“A report detailing plans for Redditch Library will be presented to Cabinet in early 2022.”