Yardley libraries – the truth

By on 08/06/2009 in News, Rebuttals
Cllr Paul Tilsley

Cllr Paul Tilsley

Deputy leader of Birmingham City Council, Cllr Paul Tilsley responds to inaccurate media reports about library closures in Yardley.

So how do we define closure?

According to Birmingham Mail columnist Adrian Goldberg, one definition is clearly relocation.

Not in any dictionary I’ve ever referenced.

In todays Mail Mr Goldberg repeated claims that plans to enhance the library service in Yardley amount to the closure of the facilities at Glebe Farm, Kents Moat and Sheldon.

Now I’ll happily confirm that libraries were up for discussion when the constituency committee met last night but that’s about all your columnist got right.

The plan in Yardley is to improve the library facilities, bringing them into line with public expectations for a 21st century library service.

As my council colleague Cllr Jim Whorwood pointed out when this “story” first reared its head last week, we’re talking about increasing opening hours, introducing new neighbourhood libraries, embracing technology and increasing the number of  library staff visiting schools and community venues.

The overall aim is to attract new users to the library service. After all, extending library provision across the city is one of our key performance targets. And lest we forget, in the most recent CPA inspection, Birmingham City Council’s culture rating improved from ‘adequate’ last year to ‘good’ this year – an upward curve of progression that we are committed to continuing.

This debate centres on a programme of measures designed to modernise the service, making it more relevant to the people of Yardley in 2009 and that should surely be seen as a positive move.

We want to take the services into the community and under no circumstances will any community lose its library.

Of course some facilities may move to more suitable premises but I can’t stress enough that this is not a closure programme.

Mr Goldberg claims any introduction of some self-service facilities automatically means a drop in standards. I disagree. Trained staff will always be on hand, so what is the problem?

In closing, I think it would be useful for Mr Goldberg, and the people of Birmingham to consider the example of Birmingham’s QE Hospital – I don’t recall an outcry over the ‘closure’ of hospitals to make way for the new facility that has been warmly received by the media and patients.

And a little closer to home for the Birmingham Mail, I don’t recall anyone saying that the Post or Mail were ‘about to close’ when the plan to move to your new home at Fort Dunlop was unveiled…

On another issue, Mr Goldberg makes claims about cuts to the Meals on Wheels service. Again totally missing the point.
Yes we are looking to work with the private and voluntary sector but the idea is to improve the service, offering people more choice.
Of course that doesn’t make a headline does it?

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