Liberal Democrats stop Labour’s silent, permanent closure of Stockport Central Library

At last night’s meeting of the full council, Stockport councillors voted overwhelmingly to support a Liberal Democrat motion calling for Stockport Central Library to re-open as soon as social distancing restrictions have been removed and not to permanently close or remove library services unless and until there has been a proper consultation on any alternative plans.

In a planned attempt to wreck this motion, Labour proposed an amendment which sought to allow Central Library to remain closed even once COVID restrictions no longer apply. This would be a silent, permanent closure of the much-loved library without proper public consultation.

Speaking after the meeting, Iain Roberts, Lib Dem Councillor for Cheadle and Gatley Ward and mover of the motion, said: “I’m very pleased our motion on Stockport Library passed last night in the face of an attempted wrecking amendment by Labour. In their amendment Labour showed their true colours – they clearly want to close the Central Library and move it elsewhere if they win funding from the Future High Streets fund. This means they have a plan that they are not sharing with councillors or residents.

“Whilst they do not have to do what we asked, over 4,000 people signed a petition submitted to the meeting on this and the majority of councillors supported our call for openness and transparency, so I hope they do the right thing by publishing their plans and engaging with our residents.”

Louise Ankers, Lib Dem Councillor for Hazel Grove Ward and seconder of the motion, said: “At the meeting I explained the importance to me of the Carnegie Libraries, having used the one in Dunfermline during a large part of my childhood and having used the Central Library here to study for my Open University degree.

“I’m glad we had the opportunity to highlight this important issue and to save the Central Library from a silent closure. The Cabinet should not rush into decisions like this in reaction to short-term pressures and they should now be honest about their plans and the way forward. It may be that providing library services elsewhere in the town centre is a better answer, but residents need to be involved in this decision in a meaningful way and not just be presented with a fait accompli.”

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