Northfields Library Meeting Report

Local Councillor David Millican writes:

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170 residents crammed into Northfields community centre to hear the Council leadership's proposals for Northfields Library.

Cllr Julian Bell fronted the presentation, supported by Cllrs Yvonne Johnson and Kamaljit Dhindsa, and explained the need for cuts. No-one disputed the need for these cuts, but there was dispute over the size of the cuts necessary. Figures were banded about, "telephone directory numbers" said Cllr Bell at one point. However Cllr Johnson did not dispute that larger cuts were needed in services such as the libraries, in order to fund extra spending on other things. Its all a matter of choices.

Tempers flared when several residents expressed anger at the Council's choice to build a car park in Southall yet close libraries. Was it necessary, and could it be delayed, several people asked. Cllr Bell responded angrily that yes the car park was necessary, but he did not seem able to explain why, when the existing car parks are not fully used now.

The Council leadership's main idea was to ask residents whether volunteers could run the library. Possibly, but not likely and certainly not without professional support. However it soon became clear that residents did not like what they heard. Most people did not want volunteers to run their library.

There was much discussion about "well being" and the need for children to have access to their library. "Libraries are the heart of the community' was a common refrain.

Northfields Library was re-opened in 2007 after a £610,000 refurbishment. There is currently a £2M government funded children's centre, incorporating the Log Cabin, being built, and the park next door is about to be regenerated for £200,000, all fully integrated with the library in mind. It just defies all common sense to close such a well used library with all the investment going into the whole site.

The Magic Circle were meeting in an adjacent room and one could only imagine that Julian Bell might have liked a magic carpet to whisk him away from Northfields residents.

Councillor David Millican
Representing Northfield Ward
Opposition Spokesman on Education & Children's Services


14 April 2011


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