Witham MP joins School Council to support their campaign to keep local library open
Priti Patel, the MP for Witham, has made the case for keeping local libraries open in her constituency, at a meeting with Kelvedon St Mary’s Primary Academy School Council (17th May). Under the current Essex County Council (ECC) proposals seven out of the eight libraries in Witham could be closed.
During the meeting, Priti praised the work of the School Council and pupils at Kelvedon St Mary’s School, for the petition they had presented to Essex County Council to keep Kelvedon library open. The School Council spoke of their support for the library and the important link it has with the library on autism support.
Speaking after the discussion with the School Council, Priti said: “I would like to praise the children for their support and commitment to keeping the library in Kelvedon open. The library is a special place within the community and the children all spoke positively about the local library service and of their own use of it. I explained to the School Council that this issue has created great concern across my constituency and I discussed with them the representations I have made to Essex County Council, the questions that I have asked of the Council that led to this consultation and we discussed alternative models for library provision.
“I am furious that so many libraries in my constituency face the prospect of closure and since the proposals were published in November 2018. I have been in extensive correspondence with Essex County Council, to make clear my serious concerns and throughout this period I have been consulting Parish councils across the constituency to look at ways to save our libraries.
“Essex County Council has a statutory legal obligation to maintain a library service. The consultation that has taken place after these proposals were published has left many communities in doubt about how to save their libraries. ECC have not provided any details of a comprehensive model for community management of libraries and no figures have been produced on library usage. This makes it impossible to prepare viable business cases for community management proposals.
“21,000 people responded to the consultation, demonstrating the strength of feeling there is against these closures. I will continue to speak up for them and for all the communities that could be affected by these closures, which would cut them off from a highly valued social resource for community interest groups, elderly people and young families.
“I will continue to press Essex County Council to work with me to look at alternative arrangements for maintaining and running libraries. This should include working to empower local communities who want to undertake community management of libraries and looking at better community use of library buildings, where there might be genuine savings.”