Greenwich Council

Agenda item

Motion relating to the National Libraries Week and commitment to future of smaller libraries.

Proposed by CouncillorsGeoffrey Brighty, Mandy Brinkhurst, Matt Clare, Charlie Davis, Spencer Drury, Mark Elliott, Matt Hartley, John Hills and Nuala Geary

Decision:

Resolved – That this Council notes the launch of National Libraries Week between October 9 and 14 October 2017.   Council commits to working with our partner and provider, Greenwich Leisure Ltd (Better.Org), to build on previous participation in the National Libraries Day by involving all our libraries across the Royal Borough in this new week-long initiative in order to generate a greater impact.

 

Council celebrates the overall success and popularity of its libraries and recognises how this Labour administration has opened and enhanced libraries such as The Greenwich Centre. Council notes the importance of libraries to its residents, whether adults or children. Council encourages schools to make use of their nearby library as well as any central resources.

 

Council requests that the Executive commits to maintaining, and where possible enhancing, library provision in the neighbourhoods of Abbey Wood, Plumstead, Thamesmead, Blackheath, Charlton, Shooters Hill, New Eltham, Coldharbour and West Greenwich.

 

Furthermore, Council calls on the Conservative Group to use their influence with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to reverse the cuts to Local Government funding, the root cause of library closures nationwide.

Minutes:

The Mayor advised that an amendment to the motion had been published and was laid around the Chamber.

 

In moving the motion Councillor Elliott stated that whilst he was aware that there were activities being undertaken at the three main libraries, to support the National Libraries Week, there appeared to be a lack of incentive in the Borough to promote it.  As there was time to prepare, with the small libraries, voluntary and arts groups and the Conservative Group wishing to help promote the week, it should be possible to make National Libraries Week a successes story for the Borough for 2017.  He noted that there had been some excellent local initiatives, such as the Eltham Read and Big Book Drop.   He continued that concern remained as to the future of the Boroughs’ smaller libraries, which was not allayed by the proposed amendment and the uncertainly was, in part, driven by the success of the three large Centres which were not accessible to everyone.  That there was a need to assure that the future of these excellent service provisions was safe.

 

Councillor Hartley formally seconded the motion, reserving his right to speak.

 

Councillor Scott-McDonald moved an amendment to the motion stating that she was disappointed with the motion and noted that 2016 had been a very successful year with library visitor numbers up across the Borough whilst across the country the trend was for a reduction in visits to libraries.  Further, Greenwich’s libraries had won awards, including Greenwich being a runner up in the Time Out awards.

 

In seconding the amendment to the motion Councillor A. Smith stated that he believed Greenwich had a fantastic modern library service which was valued by our residents.  He noted that significant numbers of libraries were closing across the Country and, whilst Greenwich was facing stringent fiscal challenges had, thus far and hopefully into the future, been able to keep its branch libraries open, but all services required funding.  

 

Councillor Elliott responded to the Mayor that he did not accept the amended motion.

 

Councillors Lloyd, Austen, Kirby, J. Smith, Brain and Hyland spoke against the amendment commenting that the Government Grant, which helped fund library services, would be cut by over one hundred and twenty million pound, by the end of the current administration, whilst   Greenwich continues to offer a modern thriving 21st century library service with the Woolwich Centre being the second busiest library in the country and the Greenwich Centre attracting five times more visitors that the former Greenwich Library.  That this Borough ensured that Greenwich libraries were family friendly environments offering a range of integrated services as well as an expanded home visit services and offered a service based on the needs of the people who lived, work and studied in the Borough.  That it was not the buildings in which libraries were based that was important but the provision provided to meet the needs of the residents was, however, it was not realistic to offer a guarantee that the future of all our libraries would be absolutely secure, regardless of any future financial cuts, but Greenwich would continue to provide the best service it could and to protect services, within its budgetary confines.

 

Councillor Hartley spoke in favour of the amendment and commented that there appeared to be an idea that there was a desire to retain old buildings but it was the vital services provided there there was important, not the buildings.  He felt the motion recognises the investment made by Greenwich into the library service but the focus of the issue was not just the three centres but the smaller libraries serving smaller communities, which felt uncertain about their future and was not addressed in the proposed amendment.  Further, that more use should be made of the smaller libraries in school outreach work, instead of encouraging schools to use the three larger centres which were often further from the schools.

 

Councillor Elliott formally closed the debate on the amendment to the motion.

 

The Mayor put the proposed amended motion to the vote and it was carried.

 

Councillor Scott-McDonald formally commended the motion to the Chamber and the motion was put to the vote and carried.

 

Resolved –

 

That this Council notes the launch of National Libraries Week between October 9 and 14 October 2017.   Council commits to working with our partner and provider, Greenwich Leisure Ltd (Better.Org), to build on previous participation in the National Libraries Day by involving all our libraries across the Royal Borough in this new week-long initiative in order to generate a greater impact.

 

Council celebrates the overall success and popularity of its libraries and recognises how this Labour administration has opened and enhanced libraries such as The Greenwich Centre. Council notes the importance of libraries to its residents, whether adults or children. Council encourages schools to make use of their nearby library as well as any central resources.

 

Council requests that the Executive commits to maintaining, and where possible enhancing, library provision in the neighbourhoods of Abbey Wood, Plumstead, Thamesmead, Blackheath, Charlton, Shooters Hill, New Eltham, Coldharbour and West Greenwich.

 

Furthermore, Council calls on the Conservative Group to use their influence with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to reverse the cuts to Local Government funding, the root cause of library closures nationwide.

Supporting documents: