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20th Oct, 2021

Your Letters: Gorcott Hill, our Prime Minister - and Redditch Library

THE cycling issues caused by the new layout on the A435 are only the start of the problems caused by turning 500 yards of dual carriageway into two lanes (Redditch Standard).

I use this road several times a day, and I’ve already seen many examples of traffic going straight on towards Studley changing lanes at the last second, because they have not realised that the nearside lane now serves Redditch only.

Perhaps worse, by hatching off what used to be the slip road, they have created a dangerous feature called a tightening radius bend.

This means that the road sets you on a gentle curve to start with, then the curve tightens suddenly and unexpectedly.

Expect to be replacing the crash barrier much more regularly than before once winter closes in as a result of this change.

This latter problem is exacerbated by the new 50mph speed limit, applied to a curve that its only possible to take at 35 to 40mph, less in a heavy vehicle.

We all know that speed limits are not supposed to be a target, but we also know that this is exactly what they have become on account of their misuse across the country.

Seeing a 50mph sign when the road stops you doing even 40 cannot be a good idea in this environment.

I will give some marks for stopping the 50 limit early going the other way, before it interferes with traffic joining the A435 by Gorcott Hall, but is there any point to it at all going this way?

Add to that the impression that the whole of Redditch was built in the 1960s with fewer traffic lights than there are at the new Redditch Gateway junction, and it seems that road design has gone backwards.

P Hemingway, Gorcott Hill

SOME five years ago my worst nightmare was that Donald Trump would become President of the USA and that Boris Johnson would become Prime Minister of the UK.

Both came to pass.

However, the US voters showed good sense in ditching Trump, while we are stuck with Mr Bumble.

If Johnson had an honourable bone in his body he ‘would fall on his sword’.

D Vincent, Winyates

I HAVE sent this letter to our MP Rachel Maclean.

As a supposedly sensible MP who ‘listens to common sense’, when is action going to be taken to stop the killing on smart motorways?

Even the most dense of voters can see the stupidity of this situation.

I suppose nothing will be done until a Member of Parliament, possibly yourself and your family or another, will have their lives tragically cut short.

For the sake of us all……please stop this stupid carnage! Now.

P Harris, like many others, too scared to use motorways now.

WITH regards to the leader of Redditch Borough Council asking the people of this town to stop the scaremongering over the future of library (Redditch Standard) I think his biggest worry is that he’s been rumbled.

The town hall is not suitable for a library – it’s at the opposite end of the town centre to the bus station, and is a long walk away.

It is the town hall that should be being demolished – whatever happened to the plan to move the council offices to Smallwood Hospital along with the police?

The library needs a central location and where it is now is perfect.

Redditch doesn’t need another square, it has Mercian Square and Church Green – if they have failed to attract the restaurants and cafes he’s on about I can’t see a new square succeeding where they failed.

Remember the Turkish restaurant? Gone.

It’s only the Aroma Cafe on Church Green East that is playing its part, and very good it is too.

No Mr Dormer, you have sold us a pup, abandon your plans and enhance the library we already have.

That way too you will have more to spend on a library for Winyates and Matchborough.

You should be building Redditch up, not knocking it down.

J Wilson, Matchborough

AN open letter to the people of Redditch:

In the Redditch Standard last week Councillor Matt Dormer has been urging us all to recycle more in a bid to be less wasteful, to save energy, and money.

He has also gone to great lengths to reassure us that we ‘need to not worry’ about our precious library services as he leads the council during the ‘redevelopment’ of Redditch town centre.

So, it appears he has it all under control then. In fact that’s the problem.

Coun Dormer is not only Leader of Redditch Borough Council, he’s also on the Town Deal Board for Redditch, and is Worcestershire County Council portfolio holder for libraries, putting him in a powerful position over one of the county’s most valuable and important assets: Redditch Library.

Why, then, is this supposedly eco-minded councillor currently preparing to waste a perfectly good building, a huge amount of energy, and millions of pounds of public money?

Matt and his team plan to relocate the library services and destroy the current building to make space for… nothing.

Yes, you read it correctly!

Unsurprisingly, some things don’t add up here: In Matt’s recent video alongside Redditch MP Rachel Maclean, he asks us to imagine Church Green as a blank canvas and suggests that this ‘vision’ will open up the area and bring people flocking to enjoy it.

Now, I’m all for more people enjoying Church Green, but the library isn’t stopping that: In fact, on the contrary, before the pandemic the number of visitors to the library was between 800 and 1,200 people a day!

If Matt wants footfall, he should probably leave the library right where it is!

That alone is enough to convince me that destroying the library building is a wasteful and pointless exercise.

And there’s more: The most talked-about relocation site for the library has been the Town Hall.

There are many problems with this, not least, the lack of space.

The current library building was purpose-built; It was designed with wide, open-plan floors, ample space for thousands of books (currently about 30,000), as well as meeting rooms, offices and study areas; and the moveable bookshelves make it easy to quickly create large spaces for the diverse groups and activities Redditch Library is well-known for.

Like a great oak tree, the roots of the library extend down into the basement where extensive archives are preserved for future generations.

The Town Hall simply isn’t an appropriate building.

I think most would agree that the extra 250metres down the hill makes the Town Hall feel very off-centre and away from the main hive of activity in town.

Also, whilst some may not particularly like the exterior of the library building, it surely compares favourably to that of the Town Hall!

The trouble is, Coun Dormer and his crew have backed themselves into a bit of a corner.

They applied for, and received, the money for this project before they’d fully thought it through, and, because the library demolition was part of their proposal, it is now a condition of having been awarded the money, whether it makes sense or not!

As a result, Coun Dormer is now frantically trying to convince us that destroying the library building is a good thing.

He’s already begun disrupting library services – via a tiny notice in the paper he has announced a prohibition on waiting, collections, and deliveries from behind the library.

This will surely stop people collecting reserved materials, stop the library returning materials to other libraries and, most heartbreakingly, stop the wonderful library volunteers from delivering books to housebound customers.

Suddenly, Matt’s assurance that we need not worry seems a little hollow!

The council doesn’t seem to have much in the way of long-term planning for Church Green either, aside from applying for funding to flatten the library without actually having anywhere to relocate it to.

The Town Deal Board also hasn’t made it clear how they intend to bring swaths of people to Church Green once they have created their blank canvas.

When you imagine subtracting the 1,000 or so daily library visitors from the area and creating just an empty space, it all starts to look a bit bleak!

Incidentally, the current library building is a massive financial asset, contributing well in excess of £50,000 each year in business rates.

But Redditch Library is much, much more than 30,000 books.

Our library services have already been downsized, and there are only 11 staff members now, compared to the 30 there were around 15 years ago.

What’s next? Will we see our town’s precious archives dispersed across the county and self-service-style facilities replacing the friendly, helpful and creative staff?

Moving a library is about more than just rehoming books. It is a place of safety and peace, it is a place without discrimination.

It is truly a place where people of any age, education, political leaning, religion, ethnicity, background, ability, gender, sexuality, employment status, wealth, or social ranking can go to widen their knowledge and feel at home.

It is also, crucially, a place of refuge and friendship for those who are isolated and lonely.

The library is the well-established, settled, and smoothly-run beating heart of our town centre, and this is down to the hard work of the fantastic staff, the great central location it currently occupies, and the ideal, well-designed building it is housed in.

Coun Dormer must not take these things for granted, nor must he make the mistake of assuming that moving the books will result in

the relocation of everything else that makes our library truly priceless.

During his short life so far, my son, Ronnie, has enjoyed so many happy hours at the library; at Baby Bounce and Rhyme classes,

Storytime sessions, Lego Club, Walking Club, and countless themed activity sessions…

He has completed three Summer Reading Challenges and this summer holiday, ‘maxed out’ both his and my library cards twice with the books he borrowed – and read! – a quantity of books I certainly could not have afforded to buy him.

We are just one family of the thousands who use Redditch Library.

£4.2million is the figure Coun Dormer and his team have been entrusted with to demolish our library building and create an empty space, and with Worcestershire County Council is already having to make cuts of £800,000 to library services this year.

It seems Matt’s piggy bank for an alternative library location is as empty as his ‘vision’.

It is clear to me that the objectives for Church Green can easily be met without disrupting library services at all.

The interior of the library is still smart from its recent (expensive) refurbishment, and the idea of digging up the brand new resurfacing work outside, which was completed only this summer, is down right absurd!

If, like me, you care about our priceless town library, I’d urge you to look past Coun Dormer’s articles last week and start worrying.

E Tyrrell, A Redditch mum

CLIMATE change is headline news and is high on the political agenda, as the UK prepares to host the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26) this November.

But the devastating impact of environmental disasters on animals is almost completely overlooked.

Climate change has hit the world’s poorest communities hardest of all and has left millions of working animals at severe threat from drought, flooding, cyclones, wildfires and other serious issues, such as plastic pollution.

The spiralling crisis is sadly leading to the spread of disease, injury and loss of life on a massive scale.

In these poverty-stricken regions, working animals – ranging from donkeys and horses to camels, elephants and oxen – have a vital role, making it possible for families to earn a small income and put food on the table. But climate change is threatening the survival of these animals and the communities they support.

SPANA is carrying out projects to provide water, food, lifesaving veterinary care and vaccinations to working animals in desperate need.

We’re also calling for urgent international action to assist these animals and the vulnerable people that depend on them.

This World Animal Day on October 4, please visit www.spana.org/worldanimalday and help us to prevent suffering and protect working animals facing the brunt of environmental catastrophe.

L Edwards

SPANA (the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad)

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