Thursday 15 September 2011

Campaign Launched Against Secretive Cuts To Stratford Children's Library

There’s little doubt that Stratford library is always busy – it’s often difficult to find a seat amongst the students who use it regularly and its children’s area is popular with local parents. However, most may not know that the library is due to close for six months from 1 October for what Newham council calls “refurbishment” – and what in practice means the incorporation of the Local Service Centre, currently across the road near the Fox pub, are part of the Mayor's plan for "Integrated Front Offices". With no notice and no public consultation, this will involve a drastic reduction in the children's library area.

The few Stratford library users who have heard about this proposal are understandably furious and I am indebted to Claire Perez for letting me know about a campaign to “end the clandestine cutting of community services upon which our children depend”. A campaign website has been set up and a petition launched. In a letter to Mayor Sir Robin Wales, Ms Perez says:

According to my conversation with senior library management, the Borough’s communications team had not authorised them to inform library users of these impending changes. This is unacceptable and makes parents and children feel that they are victim to cynical machine politics. Parents and children of Newham will not be able to forgive politicians who stand back and allow a whole generation of young people to be betrayed in this way.

Sadly this kind of secrecy is commonplace in Newham. As those of us with a long memory also know well, efforts to persuade Sir Robin to change his mind are notoriously difficult, especially when squeezing other council services into a smaller, more overcrowded Stratford Library enables him to continue to claim that no library in Newham will actually close. The campaign by parents therefore needs all the support it can get from local people. You can find out about how to do so here.


Anonymous said...

Those of us old enough to remember the old Stratford library can remember something called books. When the library was in Water Lane, the lending library had a mouth watering selection including sheet music and maps. The reference library was peerless and had bound copies of newspapers going back to the 19th century.

All that went when the new library was built and it seems to have more DVDs than books. The staff are also a mixedbunch - I once asked a member of staff to help me find a book on Churchill for a school project my daughter was doing and was shown in the catalogue as being present. Not only did the staff member fail to locate the book but they asked me who Churchill was!

It does not surprise me that there will be even further reductions as Wales and his lackeys have never caught onto the fact that the availability of books is central to improving the education of our children.

Those of us who went onto University, higher education and apprenticeships in the sixties and seventies did so for many reasons but one of them was the availability of literature and research material in our libraries, coupled with a library staff who were well educated and knew their stock.

As Newham sinks ever deeper into the mire created by the overpaid and underperforming Wales and his equally useless councillors, there are few left to challenge his mis - management, and those who do are victimised and bullied.
My advice - leave Newham, its not worth saving.

Anonymous said...

This is your latest "campaign" Kevin ?

I would suggest you in fact nothing about this but are once again "piggy backing" as those of your ilk tend to do.

Moreover like your other "campaign" around the Police Base on Wanstead Flats it is once again a middle class liberal hobby horse.

P.S. Glad the Arms Fair passed off well. --reckon it should be an Annual event, eh ?

Anonymous said...

Anon 18th September:-you are so right.

We hear all this about "consultation" , -but this means consultation with a vocal middle class (or raher sad, of any social class ) minority, who bellyache about "The Council , the Mayor, etc "

At least Newhamm is not CLOSING any Libraries, --maybe the campaigners should "campaign" elsewhere, where Libraries are closing. .

Stratford resident said...

The anonymous poster in two comments above obviously has not spent much time in the Stratford children's library. Otherwise he/she would know that the library is far from being a middle-class bastion in Stratford but is in fact well used by all social classes and all backgrounds.

Poster also don't seem to have much respect for or awareness of most of the library users in Newham as he/she seems to suggest that only middle-class parents would care about providing their kids with a safe and nurturing space for reading and learning. Anyone who has spent time speaking to users of that library would know that is not the case.

Just because they are not closing the library doesn't mean we have to accept the mayor's decisions for our borough if they are made without public input.

Providing a library space as special as Stratford children's library is a service for the children of our borough where the kids of Newham of all classes and backgrounds can learn and explore and grow in an environment that they need in a place like Newham and that they won't find anywhere else. Even in an era of cuts we have to prioritise the needs of kids.

Poster proposes a false choice between shutting entire libraries down and ruining the best children's library in Newham. I sympathize with those losing libraries in other boroughs, but this is about our borough, our kids, our valued institutions, our local government budget, and our future here in Newham.

Anonymous said...

Stratford Resident:- no posts have suggested that the users are only or mainly "middle class ", --nor is anyone suggesting that there should be no public INPUT (as opposed to an absolute veto )

It is though stating though that from what I can see from what has been written here, the Library is not being permanently closed,--unlike the situation in many other Boroughs who seem to have had less cuts , BUT have still closed Libraries.

Stratford resident said...

Stratford since 2000 has had a self-contained spacious children's library. This children's library will in fact be permanently closed if the current plans are realised. In its place will be a much smaller children's section that will be merged into the rest of the library.

It is this self-contained children's library that parents and residents are fighting to keep. This safe and nurturing learning environment is loved by children of all ages and all backgrounds in Newham. Our daughter begs us to take her there and other parents say the same. What other learning environment for young people in Newham can boast such affection?

We can debate separately the wisdom of the mayor's policy of squeezing other council functions into what are now library-only buildings, but whatever your views on that policy, it's wrong to take the space from the kids.

Stratford resident said...

Anon 18 Sept 23:56: BTW you write that no one is suggesting that there should be no public input, but it is in fact the mayor who makes this very suggestion, by deciding the future of our libraries without consulting the public.

If there were to be public input on building works that are about to start in two weeks, it should have occurred months ago. It never happened. The matter has been hidden from public view from start to finish.

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