Libraries are vital social assets, valued by
communities across the country. We will defend libraries from closure and ensure
they are preserved for future generations, including wi-fi and computers to
meet modern needs.
Tory-controlled Essex County Council has proposed the closure of Thaxted and Stansted libraries in its recent consultation document. The outcome of the consultation exercise, which ended on 21 February, will not be known until after the election. Uttlesford Labour activists have supported keeping the libraries open and have opposed cuts in hours and book stock at the district’s other two libraries in Saffron Walden and Dunmow.
Dunmow library demonstrates how investment in library services increases usage.
Uttlesford Labour will campaign for the district council to
pursue all avenues to keep open the libraries and defend opening hours and book
stock, including urging the Minister for Libraries to force the county council
to abide by its statutory responsibilities to ensure a comprehensive library
service in our rural area and supporting any judicial review.
If all efforts to prevent Essex County Council from withdrawing library services fail, Uttlesford Labour proposes the following policies:
- Fund the annual rent costs which amount to £7,000 for Thaxted and £13,000 for Stansted from the Communities and Partnerships Portfolio.
- Employ a full-time qualified librarian – or two part-time librarians – at a cost of approximately £30,000 to ensure that the two libraries have adequate staff cover.
- Negotiate with Essex Library Service to ensure that we can tap their resources, including inter-library loans, e-book lending and other services.
- Libraries can play an important role in self-improvement and the love of learning, as well as accessing crucial information. We will look at how local libraries could develop synergies with information services and civic groups – such as the district council’s information desks, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Essex Police, Job Centre Plus, etc – to provide a comprehensive and integrated service that spans culture, community information, self-help and government authorities.