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.
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.