Lib Dems remain opposed to the stealth closure of Stockport Central Library in the face of sham consultation

Following a meeting of councillors to scrutinise the Labour Cabinet’s plans to consult about service delivery in a new town centre location, Liberal Democrats have branded the proposed consultation a sham.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Colin MacAlister, Shadow Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said: “The Labour Cabinet have shared their plan to ask residents what services they want to see at the new ‘Stockroom’ site, at an as-yet undecided location in Merseyway.

“What they are not telling residents in that consultation is that support for library services would be the final nail in the coffin of the Carnegie-endowment Central Library. Labour’s own report makes it clear that there are no viable alternative uses for the building and yet they seem hell-bent on setting up a rival site, just a few hundred yards away, to try to breathe some life back into Merseyway. At the Scrutiny Committee we discovered for the first time that the whole £14.5m funding package could be at risk if it does not include library facilities and having a cafeteria.”

Cllr Louise Ankers, the Shadow Cabinet Member whose remit includes consultations and library services, added: “Stockport Labour still haven’t learned to listen! Once again they are carrying out a sham consultation, having already decided that they are going to set up a new library in the town centre, which will make Stockport’s loved Central Library obsolete and with no clarity about the future use of this key heritage building to serve Stockport and its residents.

“It seems clear from the Cabinet report that the Central Library building is seen as a burden and it will need to be sold off for a giveaway price to make any future use viable, rather than being brought up to date and made into a properly accessible, modern library, such has been done successfully elsewhere with heritage buildings such as Carnegie Libraries. The Labour Cabinet have even taken legal advice to try to get around the need to consult on this important issue.

“As the largest Group on the Council, the Lib Dems had made clear their opposition to Labour’s stealth closure of the Central Library. It’s not the first time important decisions like this have been taken behind closed doors and we will continue to call Labour out for their dishonest approach to consultations. But residents must remember that we are only in this position because the local Tories have propped up the Labour administration for another year.”

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