At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening the Labour administration formally decided to remove library services from Stockport Central Library as part of a suite of decisions relating to the new Stockroom proposal.
Stockport’s Liberal Democrats voiced their opposition to this specific part of the proposal since successfully moving a motion in October 2020, requiring a full public consultation be held on the closure of Stockport Central Library as a library. The results of that consultation were overwhelmingly opposed to this aspect of the proposals.
The Lib Dems have therefore used the Council’s process of “call-in” to require that this decision is looked at again by a Scrutiny Committee ahead of a possible discussion and vote at the Full Council Meeting in January.
Speaking after decision was published, Cllr Lou Ankers, Shadow Cabinet Member whose responsibilities include libraries, said: “The Lib Dems want to stand up for the people of Stockport as Labour aren’t listening to their own consultation responses saying not to move library services from Central Library.
“We have no objection to the development of Stockroom – the objection we have is the removal of library services from Central Library against the clear view of the consultation! What is the point of the consultation if it is just going to be ignored in this way?
“Our next step was to use the powers available to us to call in the decision for further scrutiny and hopefully get it discussed again at Full Council so we can tell the Labour administration once again what the residents of Stockport want, as they don’t seem to be listening.”
The scrutiny meeting to discuss this issue will be scheduled shortly.
At a meeting last night of Stockport Council’s Scrutiny Committee that covers Library Services, the Liberal Democrats successfully moved a motion recommending that the Cabinet do not proceed with moving the library services from the Central Library.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Lou Ankers, shadow cabinet member with responsibilities including libraries and mover of the motion, said: “Last night we made clear to the Labour Cabinet that they cannot simply ignore the results of their own consultation, where residents overwhelmingly supported retaining library services at our Carnegie-endowment Central Library.
“Labour must not ignore the scrutiny recommendations. The Central Library decision is being considered at two further scrutiny committees this week and residents can rest assured that the Liberal Democrat members of these committees will continue to raise their concerns and push for Labour to think again.”
Speaking ahead of White Ribbon Day 2021 this Thursday, 25th November, Cllr Chris Gordon, Liberal Democrat councillor for Bredbury & Woodley, said: “White Ribbon Day is the focus of campaigning all year round to try to bring an end to male violence against women and girls by raising awareness and encouraging men to take the White Ribbon Promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about male violence against women.
“As part of the all-party working group seeking White Ribbon Accreditation for Stockport Council to take a strategic approach to ending male violence against women, I encourage everyone to share the message that all men can make a difference. I will be wearing my White Ribbon with pride and I hope the conversations this may provoke will make others join me in making the promise.”
You can find out more about White Ribbon Day by following this link: https://www.whiteribbon.org.uk/day
The decision by the Conservative-backed Labour cabinet to close Stockport Central Library will be going through three of the council’s scrutiny committees this week ahead of a final decision on 7th December.
Speaking ahead of the first of these meetings, Cllr Lou Ankers, shadow cabinet member with responsibilities including libraries, said: “Labour simply aren’t listening. They reluctantly launched the recent consultation, called for by the Lib Dem motion in October 2019 because we could see a ‘stealth closure’ of the Central Library coming, and issued press release after press release trying to convince people to support this closure of library services.
“The outcome of the consultation was overwhelming opposition to the closure of Stockport’s iconic Carnegie-endowment Central Library, and yet they are choosing to ignore this and are determined to press on. Residents will rightly ask what the point of the consultation was and why they should trust the current Labour cabinet with the future of our town.”
Cllr Lisa Smart, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems at Stockport Town Hall and scrutiny vice-chair, added: “Had local Conservatives not backed this minority Labour Cabinet in May we would not be facing this closure. Lib Dems would be doing the right thing, which is listening to the public and keeping the Central Library open as a library. We would invest the money needed to return it to being a good, accessible main library for the town.
“This whole situation is simply a lack of imagination and vision – having a substantial library presence at Stockroom using the Future High Streets funding does not require the closure of the Central Library at all and we call on Labour to think again.”
Discussion of Labour’s plans will go to the Corporate Resource Management and Governance Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday evening, the Children and Families Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday and the Economy and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee on Thursday.
All of these meetings will be accessible to the public through the council’s webcasting service, which can be found here: https://stockport.public-i.tv/core/portal/home
Stockport Council’s Labour leadership were condemned last night for their timid response to yesterday’s central government announcement regarding Rail investment in the North. Despite strong criticism from other senior Labour figures in the North West, Stockport’s leader would only say she was ‘disappointed’.
Following the government announcement, which received widespread cross -party criticism, Liberal Democrat Group Leader Cllr Mark Hunter had challenged Labour to agree that the Northern Powerhouse was effectively ‘dead in the water’ if the decision not to invest were to go ahead.
Speaking immediately after the council meeting Cllr Hunter commented “For all their warm words, this Conservative government have demonstrated – yet again – that when it comes to the crunch they really don’t care about the North. This decision is shameful and, as business leaders and others have said, will set us back many years. We desperately need the investment in rail infrastructure to encourage more use of public transport, yet all we have are more broken promises”.
At last night’s meeting of Stockport Council the Liberal Democrats received unanimous support for their motion calling on the Cabinet to improve the information available to residents about where there are life-saving Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), to review their deployment across the borough to ensure there is good coverage in all areas where they would be beneficial, to make training available to local sports clubs and teams, and to implement a streamlined process for community groups to install new AEDs on council property.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Will Dawson, mover of the motion and Lib Dem councillor in Offerton, said: “I was delighted to be able to bring forward this crucial motion to make sure that we have more life-saving machines in the right places all across Stockport and that people know where to find them. In an emergency the first step should always be to phone 999, but raising awareness among the public of where our AEDs are will help them find them in that crisis moment when seconds may count and help them identify any gaps in the council’s provision.”
Cllr Malcolm Allan, seconder of the motion and Lib Dem councillor in Marple North, added: “Having been involved with several community-funded AEDs I know that the council’s current process is complicated and legalistic. That will be improved immensely now that the council has agreed to implement the Community Heartbeat Trust system, which makes issues such as public liability and installation easy and without risk to the council. I look forward to the promised report on progress due in January next year.”