The proposed move of library services from the old site to a new up to date site within the Parkgate development at first glance has some points to recommend it.
There is the chance to reach out to a new audience through modern facilities and the proposed location will be somewhere with a much higher footfall than the current location. There will also be 500 car parking spaces within Parkgate which are FREE for the first three hours.
Crucially, the new site promises much better access for mums and dads with pushchairs and those with disabilities, with lift access from the basement car park. It is also envisaged that it will be serviced by a Shopmobility Scheme.
But the consultation that is being carried out has to be thorough and take into account the views of the wider Shirley community. It is key that the Council carries the people with it on this one.
However, there has been some scare-mongering about the loss of the current library car park which is used by many, including St James’ Church. This car park is NOT for sale and let’s remember this car park is not solely for the current Library. It is called “Shirley Library Car Park” purely for identification purposes.
Remember, while Birmingham and other councils are closing their libraries it is to be welcomed that Solihull is looking to rejuvenate its services. The new location will lend itself to become a flexible space through the library service working with other organisations to offer new services, including a range of IT facilities and helping people into learning and work.
The Liberal democrats in the usual spirit of opposition have claimed that 80 per cent of locals are opposed to this move; however they have produced no statistical backing to this assertion. It reminds me of the old Vic Reeves joke that 88.2 per cent of statistics are made up on the spot.
The Consultation is now underway with displays in Shirley Library, questionnaires to fill in and also telephone polls will be undertaken. The consultation runs from 22nd April to 24th May 2013 – so, residents of Shirley, make sure you have your say!