5,000 signatures reached
To: The Mayor of Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council
Save Stockport's Historic Central Library
Drop the proposal to close and replace the Central Library with a much reduced library service located in the Merseyway retail precinct.
Why is this important?
When we started our petition to Save Stockport’s Historic Central Library, we believed that we were fighting a move to the ex-Argos unit. The situation has now changed.
An early gain for our campaign was won at the Council meeting, on 22 October 2020, at which we first presented the petition, then with 4000 signatures. Defeating an amendment from the Cabinet, the Council resolved :
• to re-open Stockport Central Library as soon as social distancing restrictions have been removed; and
• not to permanently close or remove library services from Stockport Central Library unless and until there has been a proper public consultation that makes this intention clear and sets out the alternative plans for the building so that Stockport residents can have their say.
Full documentation of that Council meeting can be found in our campaign repository here https://tinyurl.com/yxkgumfy
However, there is now an even bigger threat to our historic Central Library. In December 2020, the Council was awarded £14.5m Future High Streets funding from the Government and they intend to use some of this money to refurbish the Adlington Walk area of the Merseyway retail precinct.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, Councillor David Meller, has made it clear that he wants to close Central Library permanently and move library services to the precinct ( https://www.facebook.com/davidmellerchn/posts/3435181043257851 ). In a statement to the Stockport Express on 6 January 2021, Cllr. Meller said that an “overwhelming majority” opinion against closure of Central Library would be required in the consultation, for his plan to be dropped.
The Council has now commenced the consultation process which could lead to Central Library permanently closing as a library. See https://consultation.stockport.gov.uk/policy-performance-and-reform/central-library-proposal/
We think that there is only one use for the Central Library building and that is its designed purpose as a public library.
Please continue to help grow this petition to save our Central Library.
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.
The Council bought the Merseyway retail precinct in 2016. The Council’s 2016-17 accounts (page 23) reported that the acquisition cost was £88.2 million but unfortunately there appear to be more and more shop closures and the 2020-21 accounts (pages 38-39) report a current valuation of only £19.85 million ( https://www.stockport.gov.uk/budgets-and-financial-monitoring/statement-of-accounts ). The precinct has many vacant units but transferring an established central library from its purpose built, Grade 2 listed home is not the answer.
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 of Central Library and transfer of any of its library services 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 a Council meeting.