Campaigners confident of forcing council to rethink plans for Lichfield Library

Campaigners fighting plans to move Lichfield Library say they are confident of forcing a u-turn.

The Friary building which currently houses Lichfield Library. Pic: Elliott Brown

The Friary building which currently houses Lichfield Library. Pic: Elliott Brown

Staffordshire County Council has drawn up plans to switch the facility to St Mary’s in the Market Square and convert The Friary into residential properties.

But a petition organised by the Lichfield and Burntwood branch of the Green Party has called for a public consultation on the proposals.

The 5,562 verified signatures means that the council will now need to debate the issue at a meeting on May 19.

Robert Pass

The Green Party’s 2015 general election candidate Robert Pass

Robert Pass, chair of Lichfield and Burntwood Green Party, said: “Quite simply, we believe that the council must agree to a new consultation on the future of Lichfield Library.

“They cannot ignore the strength of public feeling on the matter. Nor can they ignore the possible consequences of pressing ahead without consulting.

“The council seem to be trying to use their 2014 consultation on the whole of the Staffordshire library service as a mandate for downsizing and moving Lichfield Library, but, having taken legal advice, we believe that because the council consulted separately on moving the Lichfield Records Office there is a legitimate expectation, in law, of a fresh consultation on the future of the library itself.

“It’s even been suggested to us that failure to consult might, in fact, be deemed unlawful.”

The meeting will see Mr Pass given five minutes to speak in support of the petition.

He said: “I will be speaking on behalf of the people of Lichfield

“Our voices have been entirely absent from the process so far. I think it is utterly scandalous that there hasn’t even been any local representation on the committee tasked with considering the future of the city’s library.”

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 proposed 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.

11 Comments

  1. Thornton

    10th May, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Please remember Mr Pass, while you’re ‘speaking on behalf of the people of Lichfield’ that not everyone in Lichfield signed this petition and that some people actually want this building to still be here in 20-30 years time rather than a crumbling wreck that once housed a pretty sub standard library. Let the people who know what they’re doing turn this building into a great place to live. You can still have your library but let others make proper use of this incredible building and ensure its future.

  2. Rebecca Sadler

    11th May, 2016 at 8:31 am

    It will only be a “crumbling wreck” if we allow the Tories to continue it’s disgraceful austerity cuts!!

    The Friary is a wonderful public resource and should remain so – it was gifted to the people of Lichfield. It is not for Staffordshire Council to flog off to plug a funding shortfall.

    Well done Robert Pass for standing up for what is right and giving a voice to the many people who value the building.

  3. Thornton

    11th May, 2016 at 9:13 am

    How will supporters of the library value it when it has to be bulldozed for being unsafe? I personally would love for the library to remain there but i also live in the real world and have learned that we have to live within our means. The government does not have a bottomless pit of money at their disposal. Also Rebecca, if you don’t like cuts then maybe we shouldn’t have got ourselves into such crippling debt in the first place.

  4. Rebecca Sadler

    11th May, 2016 at 11:34 am

    No prizes for guessing who Thornton votes for!

    You say we don’t have a bottomless pit, yet the Tories can find money to give tax cuts to their rich supporters, they can find the money for HS2, they can find the money for trident nuclear weapons and war…

    The cuts to local government spending is a cynical Tory attack on public services which hits the poorest people in our society.

  5. Rob

    11th May, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    How does someone who polled below 4% in last year’s GE have a mandate to speak on behalf of the people of anywhere?

  6. Mat

    11th May, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Rob, what is wrong with asking for a full, comprehensive public consultation. Why does he need a mandate to ask for the owners of the Library to have a say? What about the 5400 people who have asked to be consulted. At least make an effort to be coherent.

  7. Rob

    11th May, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    He needs a mandate to justify:
    “I will be speaking on behalf of the people of Lichfield”
    I think there are more than 5400 of them.

  8. Ken

    12th May, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Rob, you don’t seem to have any problem with Cllr Adams taking decisions on behalf of the people of Lichfield based on a “mandate” given to him by 1032 Tamworth residents.

  9. AgitatorofPeople

    12th May, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Rob, he is commenting on the lack of Lichfield representation in the decision process undertaken thus far by Staffordshire County Council and he is presenting a petition he started on behalf of it’s Lichfield and Staffordshire signatories. A petition is an appeal to authority, which is quite different from a mandate, which is an order or directive.
    And anybody can start a petition regardless of political persuasion or background, even you can, because we fortunately live in a democracy where we can question the actions of those in government.

  10. Rob

    14th May, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    @Ken: All councillors take decisions on various different things, that’s why they’re there. That’s not the same as claiming to speak for the whole population.
    @AoP: I’m aware of what he’s doing. He’s got 5000 signatures. That is defintely not the population of Lichfield.
    Yes, I know anyone can start a petition, least of all me who never signs them. There are quite enough already.

  11. Mat

    15th May, 2016 at 8:40 am

    So Rob you like to voice an opinion on here,but object to others doing it in a fashion where they are open to the public voice as we were when we campaigned. What’s is point exactly? It sounds like Rob Pass has annoyed you by actually running an effective exercise in democracy. It does actually happen if you engage with people and show some passion.

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