I notice from Monday’s Express & Star that Walsall council – fresh from their self congratulation over the promise not to close any libraries ‘…in this financial year’, seem to be tentatively floating the idea of moving Walsall Wood’s Library into Oak Park Leisure Centre. This really ought to be stepped on before it becomes a serious proposal. To be honest, I’m quite nonplussed by the very suggestion.
Walsall Wood’s current library, located on the corner of Coppice Road and High Street, is housed the old Neighbourhood Office, renovated and refurbished at the cost of well over £100,000 in 2007. It is an excellent facility, and one of the more modern libraries in the Borough. The council made a killing in 2006 by selling the old library site opposite Oak Park to developers, and relocating to the then vacant council property the library occupies now. Walsall Wood got a great new library, developers got their hands on prime development land and the council trousered a sizeable wad. Now it seems they’re just about to destroy all the benefits the village gained. For what, exactly?
There is no space free in Oak Park for a library, so one has to assume that to move there, the library will have to shrink, or the services provided by the recreation centre will, or a mixture of both. The fabric of Oak Park is crumbling, and desperately needs renovation. This dark and dingy building has little natural light – fine for playing squash or bench-pressing, not so conducive to reading. It’s a fair walk from the main road and the centre of Walsall Wood, especially for the elderly. And is a recreation centre really a place for quiet, uninterrupted study? I think not.
This bizarre, penny-pinching scheme will result in the loss of a fine facility, recently provided at great expense – cash which will have been wasted. It offers no benefit to the folk of the area, but would allow councillors to effectively destroy the service, screw over the service users yet still claim to have kept their word. This is a sly act and needs watching carefully.
I wonder how Walsall Wood Councillor Mike Flower, who put so much effort into creating our wonderful community library, and then getting the railings and landscaping around it, feels to have his work snubbed in this way?
I was asked recently why I didn’t celebrate Walsall Council’s statement on the future of the library services. The simple answer was that I didn’t feel I could trust it. This seems to be borne out in reality.
” just one of a number of options being discussed at the moment” indeed…by who, exactly?
” can’t add any more to that at this stage”
I certainly could.
Looking at it from another point of view, the library is open 3 days a week (closes for lunch each day), a total of 24 hours in a week.
Oak Park is open for 7 days and 71 hours, til 10 pm most evenings.
I don’t suppose the library will open the same hours (although I can’t see why not…) but it will be easier to open for longer.
Currently, because of lone working regs (or similar cobblers) staff can’t work on their own so it takes 48 hours of staff time to operate for 24 hours; if you’re in another building with other staff the library staff could ostensibly operate for 48 hours, immediately doubling library opening hours.
Then factor in the saving by only having one lot of utilities to pay, another building to sell off and perhaps it isn’t as daft as it looks at first glance.
Yes I am surprised this has been taken so seriously considering where it originated from…
I haven’t seen or heard about this anywhere else…
Now land swapping… seems like a good idea..?
I notice there’s still no word from our councillors on this.
While Martin’s point has validity, Bob’s points about the unsuitability of Oak Park swing it for me- the current building is very suitable, and it makes sense to have the library in the village centre, and *not* having an empty, derelict building there. Of course, considering this comes from the E&S it’s hardly 100% reliable.
councillors won’t say owt…Cons too scared of further losses in May, Labs lost in the wilderness and LDs aren’t sure where Walsall Wood is; none of them has any idea what to do anyway