1,000 signatures reached
To: The Mayor of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Save Stockport's Historic Central Library
Rescind the proposal to close and replace the Central Library with a much reduced library service located in the empty ex-Argos unit in the Merseyway.
Why is this important?
The Stockport Central Library was built in 1913, using money provided by an American philanthropist called Andrew Carnegie who gave £15,000 to build a central library and a branch library elsewhere in the town of Stockport. He paid for the erection of over 600 libraries in Britain and over 2000 in America.
Carnegie had a lifelong passion for books and reading and he was a savvy businessman. He donated the money and required communities to adhere to the Carnegie formula, a 6-step plan to ensure the community would support the library (by providing the site, paying staff, and using public funds to run it), and the library would in return support the community (by providing free service to all).
The building is Grade 2 listed for the following reasons
It is recognised by Historic England as a listed library of the North.
Central library hosts a reference library, a lending library and a local history library and it is still in it’s original home, purpose built for the town.
Stockport Council is consulting on moving the library to the now empty Argos unit in Merseyway; the idea being that the facilities will be more accessible to people in the shopping centre. They claim that this new location will be closer to transport links and that in its new location, people can drop in to borrow books, and use computers etc.
However the council also hopes to rebuild the bus station and remodel the train station; the two will be linked by a bridge. The current building sits in the middle of the two and therefore is in a good place for the future.
The council bought Merseyway several years ago for an undisclosed sum, but unfortunately there appears to be more and more shop closures. Transferring an established central library from its purpose built home is not the answer. The Argos unit is certainly not big enough to accommodate the services in the library and there is uncertainty about the local history section that has been carefully built up by people working in the library throughout the years.
The information provided by the council in their consultation does not say if library staff will keep their jobs. Nor does it say what will happen to the building. The situation is presented as if the decision has already been made.
The heritage of Stockport is its unique selling point, but over the years successive councils have had a complete disregard for its history and have demolished magnificent buildings or have built modern buildings that take away from the beauty of those remaining. Unfortunately this continues in the name of progress.
Recent financial cuts have been made to borough library services and more are expected. The plan to move the library could be seen as a way of slashing funds, wrapped up as positive changes. However once the central library is lost, there is no going back.
If the council is keen for more people to use the library, they should be promoting the significance of the library and the services that the people of Stockport already possess, not cutting them to the bone and pretending that it is an improvement. The idea that better services can be run for less money has been used too often and it simply is not true.
The central library building was paid for and built as a free library for the people of Stockport and it should remain intact. Removal of the library facilities from the building is an act of vandalism. To shut the building and sell or develop it for another use that prevents the people of Stockport using the building is theft.
The closure and transfer of the library to Merseyway should not go ahead.
Joint Secretaries on behalf of Stockport United Against Austerity
Note : image used by kind permission of Alastair Coey Architects
How it will be delivered
Email the signatures to the Mayor of Stockport for presentation to the Council meeting on 22nd October 2020.