Park Library is to remain open and funded by Swindon Council. This is a success for our campaign which raised 1200 signatures calling on the council to amend their proposal to include Park in the core Library service. Better open than closed. Yet the council is only funding 15 staffed hours a week. This is clearly not enough. Parks & East Walcot Community Forum will therefore be seeking to persuade the new parish council, which is being imposed on us, to provide funding to extend the staffed hours. We will be writing to the councillors who will make up the shadow parish council in our area to ask them to provide funding so that there is a service available which more accurately reflects the needs of local people. We know this won’t be straight-forward. However, we are concerned about young people who currently use the library to do their homework after school hours, and the threat to other services currently provided in our library.
Parks & East Walcot Community Forum has proposed a meeting between councillors and community organisations to discuss the setting up of the new parish, what the precept will be, what services it might support. Local communities should be involved in discussion on these questions before a precept is set. We will raise the question of support for Park Library in those discussions.
P&EWCF Secretary Martin Wicks said:
“We would like to thank all those people who supported our campaign. Fainter hearts didn’t think that we could achieve anything. However, we have shown that community campaigning combined with the support of councillors can achieve results even against the odds.
We proposed an amendment relating to Park Library alone because the council had already decided to butcher the service. However, that does not mean we are unconcerned with what is happening in other areas of the town. We will continue to support the Save Swindon’s Libraries campaign and any local groups fighting for the survival of their library.
It is worth remembering that this disastrous policy is the responsibility not just of central government and their failed austerity plan but also Swindon Council’s administration which made the financial crisis worse than it would have otherwise been by its five year council tax freeze.
The Swindon Advertiser editorial, in an article relating to Libraries, not unreasonably described this administration as “the wreckers”. They supported an austerity policy which has failed miserably and as the autumn statement shows offers only more misery.
The administration says, in effect, that they have to stop funding Libraries in order to provide care services for young and elderly people. But they know full well that they do not have sufficient money to do this. Indeed a Conservative head of the Local Government Association recently condemned the government’s failure to address the social care funding crisis in the Autumn statement.
The reality is that Libraries and other services, including care services, are being sacrificed on the altar of an austerity policy which has made the situation worse. Will Swindon’s administration ever challenge this government as members of their own party are doing in other parts of the country, or will they carry on handing out the punishment whilst telling us it’s for our own good?”
Parks & East Walcot Community Forum
Media Release December 1st 2016