Cllr Stan Waddington to present our petition to full council on 16th February 2011

On 16th February 2011 Cllr Stan Waddington will present our 1723 signature petition to full council at Shire Hall.  This will include the letter which FoML gave to Cllrs Mark Hawthorne & Antonia Noble last Thursday 11th February:

“The Case for keeping a GCC Library in Minchinhampton

The Friends of Minchinhampton Library recognise there will have to be a share of the cuts and elements of change within the Gloucestershire County Library Service.  Please rethink your proposal to remove the County Library Service from Minchinhampton.

In view of the over-whelming public opinion in Minchinhampton against the proposal to close the library, exemplified by a 1400 signature petition collected in only seven days, we wish GCC to re-categorise our library so that we remain within the County Library system, albeit with reduced hours.

The implications of the proposed closure of Minchinhampton Library (and alternatives available) do not appear to have been thought through and taken into account.  Having the library in Minchinhampton is essential for the sustainability of our community.  The closure will impact adversely on the education of our young people, the health of older people, the cohesion of our community and the viability of local shops.

The following facts are fundamental to our case:

  • statistical comparison with other libraries

According to GCC statistics, Minchinhampton Library loans nearly 20,000 more items per annum than Stow, which is proposed to have its hours increased; and 13,000 more than Fairford, which is proposed to become a Library Express.

  • deprivation

Contrary to public perception and according to MAIDeN statistics Minchinhampton ward has pockets of high deprivation.  Parts of the ward are within the worst 20% for deprivation in the county.

  • ageing population

According to the National Statistics, 33% of our residents are over 60.  This is 12% higher than the national average (2001 Census).  The population over 60 years of age is anticipated to increase by more than 50% by 2026 (Gloucestershire Story 2009).

  • accessibility

The time and cost of public transport, the limited availability of private cars and the lack of parking near to Stroud Library mean it is not a realistic alternative to travel to other libraries, particularly for the elderly and parents with young children. The cost of bus fares, £3.75 return to Stroud and £2.30 return to Nailsworth, equates to £180 for 48 trips a year to use Stroud Library.  There is a poor two-hourly bus service to Stroud and an even more limited one to Nailsworth.

  • location of library

The library is ideally situated in the centre of the community with free on and off- street parking; adjacent to the school, doctors’ surgery and sheltered housing; within two hundred metres of Holy Trinity Church and the High Street (twelve shops, one cafe, one take-away, two restaurants and a pub); with level walking access from all parts of the town.

One of the aims of the Gloucestershire Integrated Economic Strategy 2009 to 2015 is to ensure that “market towns are the social, commercial and business hub of rural life”.  Closing our library would not only significantly reduce the number of visits to the centre of our town (the library receives 23 visits/hour) which help to maintain it as a social and commercial hub, closing our library would also contradict the mission in the Economic Strategy to create a low carbon economic environment in which communities thrive.

Conclusions

There is a very strong case for Minchinhampton Library to be re-categorised within your proposals, at the very least, as a Library Express.  We are asking GCC to take full account of the unique factors present in Minchinhampton and of the full impact of the withdrawal of the County Library Service and mobile library service upon the residents of the town and the surrounding settlements, particularly Amberley, Avening, Box, Brimscombe, Bussage and Chalford.

We trust that the above will inform your decision and we look forward to your favourable response.”

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