We’ve had some interesting developments lately. On the 21st July 2015, there was a full council meeting to discuss Bristol’s libraries, and the potential closures. Cllr Tim Leaman was going to hand over a petition (separate to the one that Stephen Finch has already handed over), and Ella Davies had submitted a statement to read.
And then, on Friday 17th July, the council appeared to make a huge u-turn, and suggested alternative proposals, whereby no libraries would close, Eastville Library would relocate, and all current libraries would have shorter opening hours. This is not a full plan, as it has been noted that there is not the budget to achieve this, without making cuts from elsewhere. The exact details of this plan (the suggested opening hours, or number of staff retained, for example) have not yet been released. It is also not an agreed plan – merely an alternative proposal, which will later be discussed.
Ben Park and Ella Davies went along to the 21st July full council meeting anyway, and Cllr Tim Leaman was there too. Ella’s statement she had submitted earlier did not now need to be read, so Ella rewrote it to allow for the new changes. However, as there were many, many, other statements put before the council (unrelated to libraries), they ran out of time and Ella didn’t get a chance to speak. She did get a written reply to her original statement however, from Mayor George Ferguson. You can read that here.
We are now awaiting further information from the council. We understand these new proposals will be discussed at the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Commission on 17th August, then go to Cabinet for the final decision on 1st September.
Prior to the 21st July 2015 full council meeting (where libraries were due to be discussed at length), Ella Davies of Friends of Sea Mills Library submitted a statement to the council, which she would then read. As it happened, an announcement that the council made a few days before the meeting meant that the statement no longer needed to be read as written, but as with all statements submitted, Ella received this official reply from Mayor George Ferguson.
“Dear Ms Davies,
Thank you for summiting your statement to Full council in regards to the Sea Mills Library. Your comments have been forwarded to the Head of Libraries to be considered as part of wider discussions.
The proposal is currently being revised and coming to cabinet on 1st September, to retain 27 libraries, which will include Sea Mills Library. This will allow Neighbourhoods Scrutiny to have further time to consider the detail of the proposals in the report and prepare their submission for Cabinet.
If the proposal is agreed, this will mean Sea Mills Library can continue to do the excellent work on literacy with school children in the all schools mentioned.
The new library service going forward will become more tailored to local needs and there will be ample chance for current and new customers to be involved with the libraries. Within the revised proposal, Bristol will have more libraries per head of population than any other major city in the UK.
George Ferguson CBE
Mayor of Bristol”
Despite us previously being told that the Mayor George Ferguson wouldn’t visit any libraries personally, we did get him to visit our library on 25 June.
All the photos from this are on our Facebook page:
We’ve received notes too from George’s “action/casework summary”, which states:
“Positive meeting with Mayor and Friends of Seamills Library. Mayor open minded to receiving creative response from friends re future of the library.”
Under the “area visits”, it says:
“Sea Mills Library
Met with Friends of Sea Mills Library – Mayor open minded and interested to work towards a partnership solution to library. Encouraged friends to think creatively towards solutions. Ideas such as ID card entry/pick up lockers/art space/social enterprise discussed. Friends have lots of energy to look to regenerate community, effective marketing and establish a relationship with the café on the square. Discussion re need for crossing outside library. Mayor reiterated that he has made no decisions and is keen to hear from the community. There is potential for Mayor to find capital to support but no revenue available.”
The council’s consultation (stage 2) has now ended.
It was asking how residents felt regarding the library accessed groupings, and whether or not they would be happy with certain conditions (like shorter opening hours, or swipe card access).
So what now?
We are expecting the council to produce some information regarding the results of the survey. There is a full council meeting on 21 July 2015 and we hope to have the results prior to that meeting.
Full Council Meeting
On the 21 July, Cllr Tim Leaman will hand over an online petition (separate to the one Stephen has been running), and Ella Davies is expected to deliver a short statement to the council.
Mayor George Ferguson is expected to make the final decision in early August.
The youngest member of Friends of Sea Mills Library – Stephen Finch – has been running a petition to save the library for some time now.
It (and Stephen) have now been featured in the Bristol Post: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Stephen-aged-8-collects-450-names-petition-save/story-26749547-detail/story.html . Well done Stephen!