Campaigners say battle for consultation over Lichfield Library plans has reached “a watershed moment”

Campaigners say the battle for a public consultation over the future of Lichfield Library has reached “a watershed moment”.

A petition with 6,324 signatures has been submitted to Staffordshire County Council after plans were drawn up to switch the library to St Mary’s in the Market Square. The current site at The Friary would then be converted into residential accomodation.

Lichfield and Burntwood Green Party members Adam Elsdon and Simon Partridge handing in the Save Lichfield Library petition at the County Buildings in Stafford

Lichfield and Burntwood Green Party members Adam Elsdon and Simon Partridge handing in the Save Lichfield Library petition at the County Buildings in Stafford

But a campaign launched by the Green Party is hoping to force a new debate by councillors – something which will happen if the verified petition reaches 5,000 signatures.

Campaign spokesperson Simon Partridge said he was confident the figure would be eclipsed, with estimates that more than 5,600 of the names on the petition are from Staffordshire.

“This is a watershed moment for the campaign,” he said. “People are simply not prepared to accept this top-down enforcement of a flawed proposal by the county council.

“If the council thought it could just slash Lichfield Library in half and quietly sell The Friary to developers without anyone minding they were woefully mistaken. Councillor Ian Parry may have tried to dismiss our concerns as ‘carping’, but what he and his colleagues are hearing now is a deafening cry of outrage from residents which can no longer be ignored. The only acceptable outcome here is a full public consultation.

“Previous consultations by the council on the mobile library service and plans to move Lichfield Record Office set clear precedents and show that there is a legitimate expectation for a new consultation on the future of Lichfield Library.”

If the petition is verified, it is expected to go before the county council on May 19.

Cllr Ben Adams, the Staffordshire County Council Cabinet member responsible for libraries, said the new debate would provide a chance to outline the benefits of the changes.

“I welcome the opportunity to explain again why I believe preserving two landmark buildings and investing in an up-to-date, first class library in the centre of Lichfield benefits the city’s residents.” he said.

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

15 Comments

  1. Thornton

    3rd May, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    I find the whole ‘Save Lichfield Library’ campaign very misleading and pretty irresponsible getting people to sign up with a name like that. Save it from what, closure? The Library is simply moving 100m down the road.

  2. AgitatorofPeople

    3rd May, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Thornton, you are quite right, it’s such a terrible thing when the campaigners ask for a “Public Consultation” on the Library and the building, and lure all of those unsuspecting simple minded Lichfield folk into signing something without reading it or allowing them the opportunity of asking questions (myself included) I take it that you did not sign the petition, read what it was for and ask them questions and then read the various articles in the newspaper and here online.
    To keep you up to speed Thornton, they want to sell the public building which houses the library and turn it into apartments, and move the Library into a private owned church half the size.
    You see most of the people that signed the petition probably find the Council very misleading and pretty irresponsible, but hey, that’s democracy in action for you.

  3. Thornton

    3rd May, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    I’m fully aware of what’s happening and believe the council are doing a fine job of liquidating assets probably to pay for some other services that some people expect for free.

  4. Darryl

    3rd May, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Currently, the rather lovely library building can be accessed by all, including the meeting rooms, once it is sold – that’s it.

    A building for the people, becomes a building for the select few.

  5. Thornton

    3rd May, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    @Darryl, i appreciate your point but i cant remember the last time i went out of my way to visit an old school because i liked the look of the building.

  6. Darryl

    3rd May, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    Well,we definitely should make decisions based on your own anecdotal evidence.

  7. Mat

    3rd May, 2016 at 8:44 pm

    Thornton, irresponsible you say. To hold people to account? To scrutinise what officials are doing? Personally, I find the phrase” preserving two landmark buildings” as being irresponsible. It gives the impression of still being accessible to the public. At least have an argument that stands up!

  8. Thornton

    3rd May, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    That’s the point, I don’t feel there is an argument here. The council need money and they also have to create homes for people so instead of building a few more homes further and further away from the centre this is a great way for people to live right in the centre without having to build the usual grotesque abomination as they have done with City Point. No one’s losing a library but people will be gaining homes.

  9. Mat

    4th May, 2016 at 6:04 am

    But you fail to address the central point
    1) what services will be lost when you place the library in a building that offers 50% of the space. Not to mention that the homes you mention will be luxury apartments coating approx £400,000 per unit. Not really the type of homes needed.
    These are the questions we were asked on the street. These are the questions the council aren’t answering?

  10. Thornton

    4th May, 2016 at 9:47 am

    I’m sorry but £400k homes are exactly the type of homes needed. Lichfield is an aspirational City and people who can afford homes like these need somewhere to live too.

  11. Mat

    4th May, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Well you should support our stance then, and let the people of Lichfield decide. After all, its their aspirations that you are quoting and as the sale of the Friary Library was not mentioned in the run up to the election, lets use it as a chance to promote local democracy and give the people their say.

  12. Mat

    4th May, 2016 at 7:11 pm

    Thornton, perhaps you could enlighten us as to what you think the services are that ” some people expect for free?”

  13. Frustrated

    4th May, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Reading from various sources, from what I can see.

    The council are selling the Friary, gifting St Mary’s £1 million and then paying them rent.

    Does not see a great deal for the council tax payer.

  14. Gill B

    5th May, 2016 at 11:41 am

    Quite apart from the question of the Library’s and City Record Office’s location and the rights and wrongs of turning the present building into expensive flats, what protections would be ensured for the oldest parts of the building? The west end of the building is much older than the rest of it, with links back to the time of Dr Johnson and well beyond, and the last time I visited, the remains of the old mediaeval Friary still existed in the gardens behind the building. It would be all too easy for developers to ‘accidentally’ obliterate these inconvenient outside elements, and once they were all in private hands there would be no real protection for the tiny rooms in the west end of the building. How can these really be guaranteed protection?

  15. Thornton

    5th May, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Yes, this is part of the Chapter House development almost complete. Use it or lose it, the Council have cleverly chosen to use it.

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