Bristol City Council are once again running a consultation which includes the future of libraries.
This time, we’ve been given three options, and all are bad. The city has been split into Bristol North West, East and South. As far as Bristol North West goes (which includes Sea Mills), options #1 and #3 are exactly the same. In both cases, we close. In option #2, Sea Mills will remain open, but Henleaze (the most visited library in Bristol outside of central), and Bishopston (which only opened in May 2017), will close. We’re caught in a predicament that we can vote to keep our library, but only if we also vote to close another somewhere else and disadvantage a different group of people.
In all options, Redland (our closest alternative library by train), Shirehampton and Westbury (our closest alternative libraries by road) all lose their funding in Bristol North West, along with Avonmouth and Clifton. It doesn’t matter which option you pick – they won’t be kept open in any of them. Across the rest of the city – the same libraries that were under threat at the last consultation are under threat once more. Wick Road, Horfield and more, all back on the closure list. It can hardly be called a fair consultation if your preferred library closes no matter what you choose?
Westbury has been trialling extended opening hours via swipe card access. Has that been successful? We might never know – and they seemingly lose their funding either way.
We have discovered that you can complete the consultation, choose none of the options, and write in the comments box exactly why you feel it unfair. Will the council read these, and will it make a difference to their plans? We don’t know, but we urge you to complete it and make your comments known.
There are fact sheets, more information about the consultation and a link to take part on the council’s website here: www.bristolfuturelibraries.co.uk
It runs until 5th September 2017.
You can see all three option maps at this link on our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/friendsofseamillslibrary/posts/1472106729519055
We would encourage everyone to contact their local councillor with your concerns. You can find details of all Bristol councillors on this page: https://democracy.bristol.gov.uk/mgFindMember.aspx
Stephen is running another paper petition as well, which you can find at various places around Sea Mills including the Cafe on the Square, McColls, Collistear beauty and hair salons. If you’re not aware of Stephen’s former petition work, he’s a school pupil and Sea Mills resident, who in 2015 when we were last earmarked for closure, got more signatures than any of the councillors or our MP, and presented his petition in-person to the then-mayor George Ferguson.
There is further discussion on the consultation ongoing on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/friendsofseamillslibrary/ so please do get involved there. Recent concerns on Facebook are how residents of Sea Mills are supposed to get to the alternative remaining libraries? Given Bristol’s enormous problems with congestion, the council would presumably rather people didn’t drive, but there are not suitable bus links for this purpose. Those without cars can look forward to lengthy walks at both end of their journey, meaning they may be unable to go at all during the week.