Labour Cabinet set to ignore vote to stop closure of Stockport Library?

At the meeting of Stockport Council last night there was a heated, two-hour debate about the Labour Cabinet’s proposals to remove all library services from historic, Grade 2-listed Central Library. This is the first time in the council’s history that a decision has been called to a debate and vote of the full council through the scrutiny process.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Lou Ankers, Shadow Cabinet member with responsibilities including libraries, said: “We have said all along that Labour aren’t listening, and last night proved it once again. After ignoring residents in their own consultation and ignoring petitions, they made it clear that they have ignored everything councillors have said at scrutiny committees. We have been clear all along that we support the proposed ‘Stockroom’ investment at Merseyway as a new, accessible, multi-purpose centre, that includes some library facilities. What we oppose is the loss of our Central Library to the public as a library.

“Labour claim that the building cannot be made suitably accessible to remain a library. At the same time they are saying it can be converted into an accessible adult education centre. This is just nonsense. It must be one or the other. The money proposed to be spent converting the building to a new purpose should be invested in making the existing Central Library fit for all, and Labour should go ahead with the town centre investment to deliver all of the benefits of that scheme.

Cllr Lisa Smart, Shadow Cabinet member with responsibilities including governance, added: “Last night was an appalling display by Labour. They packed the public question time slot with their own candidates who asked planted questions arguing in favour of Stockroom and crowding out questions from ordinary members of the public about issues of concern to them, knowing full well that we want Stockroom to go ahead.

“The council meeting voted overwhelmingly in favour of retaining library services at the Central Library and to establish an all-party working group to work out how best to do this. But we could only make a recommendation – the Labour Cabinet are the decision makers and they can still ignore the will of councillors, just like they have ignored residents’ views on this so far. I hope they will now see sense and respect the wishes of the people.”

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