Last week The Library Lobby submitted their formal response to Birmingham City Council, regarding the city council’s proposed closure of Sutton Coldfield Library. You can download our full response here (a pdf file – please get in touch if you would like this in a different format).
Our response to the consultation consisted of a critique of the grounds on which the city council recommended Sutton Coldfield library for closure, noting that based on BCC’s own rankings, with a placing of 13 out of 37, the Library is one of the most viable and most needed in the city.
The Library Lobby stressed accessibility issues; Sutton Coldfield town centre library is far more accessible to many more people, due to its better transport links, than any other library in Sutton Coldfield. A detailed analysis of Birmingham City Council’s financial analysis of the costs (and savings upon potential closure) of the library were also provided.
The second half of the Library Lobby’s response consisted of the details of their counter-proposal: one that would see the Library retained as a Tier 1 library within its current premises, supported and augmented by a variety of services provided by a community hub located in the currently vacant 2nd floor space.
On Tuesday 24th January 2017, the Town Council moved to set aside up to £150,000 from its unallocated budget to support the continued provision of a library service in the town centre after 1 April 2017. The Library Lobby proposal would see the Town Council use that sum to lease the 2nd floor of the Red Rose Centre, to be used as a community hub providing a variety of services and amenities.
The rental income would be ring-fenced by BCC to facilitate the ongoing presence of a Tier 1 library in central Sutton Coldfield. The Library Lobby acknowledges that this arrangement, to ring fence rental income, would have to be agreed by BCC, but the idea of, in principle, ringfencing a particular income stream is not an especially unusual one and we believe it has been used elsewhere in BCC.
How the people of Sutton Coldfield can now help
The Library Lobby is convinced that in order to provide a a long term, sustainable future for the library, collaboration and partnership across the community of Sutton Coldfield will be necessary. To this end The Library Lobby is inviting community groups who would like to use the library / library related space to come forward.