Controversial plan to move Lichfield Library to St Mary’s in the Market Square is approved

Councillors have backed plans to move Lichfield Library to a new home at St Mary’s in the Market Square.

The move would see the current site at The Friary redeveloped for residential accommodation.

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

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

A campaign, led by the Lichfield and Burntwood branch of the Green Party, had called for a public consultation.

But Cllr Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member responsible for libraries, said the move would secure both sites: “The £1 million investment will ensure a first class library in the heart of Lichfield, safeguard the future of two landmark buildings and support shops and businesses around St Mary’s.

“The library at St Mary’s will have significant amount of money invested in it.

“Times change and modern libraries don’t just have yards of books, some of which remain untouched from one year to the next. Our new library in Stafford also has Wi-Fi, touchscreen tables, large computer tablets and two state-of-the-art 3D printers.

“Membership is increasing there after several years of decline and we see that as a model for the future of Lichfield.”

Work will begin at St Mary’s this summer to enable the library to occupy the ground floor on a 30 year lease.

St Mary's in the Market Square. Pic: Bs0u10e01

St Mary’s in the Market Square. Pic: Bs0u10e01

Cllr Heath added: “The move is also backed by Lichfield District Council and the City Centre Development Partnership because it will increase footfall, boost the heart of the city and support local traders.

“I think in due course people will see for themselves it will be a wonderful asset for the city.”

Cllr Helen Fisher, Cabinet member for tourism at Lichfield District Council, added: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in such an exciting project.

“The move of the library will transform St Mary’s and offer an exciting new space in the historic heart of the city, with new technologies and new ways to engage with literature, history and the story of our fantastic city.

“We are looking forward to working with the county council and the team at St Mary’s to consider how we can incorporate the tourist information service into the building’s new offer.”

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

14 Comments

  1. Steve

    28th July, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    I am confused.

    The library is not getting many people visiting, therefore it needs to move.

    When it moves to St Mary’s, there will suddenly be huge numbers of extra shoppers for local traders. “The move is also backed by Lichfield District Council and the City Centre Development Partnership because it will increase footfall, boost the heart of the city and support local traders.”

    Where are all these new people coming from? Not from the current library, no one is visiting it.

  2. Jayne Beck

    29th July, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Absolute Tory stich up! Spineless local Councillors did nothing to try to save the Friary when the County Council decided they wanted to ditch an historic public building.

    A shameful episode. Only the Greens tried to save it, we could do with a few Green Councillors to break this cosy Tory club in Lichfield.

  3. AgitatorofPeople

    29th July, 2016 at 9:10 am

    We are having our beautiful old library sold out from under our feet by a bunch of tories that have held directorships of St Marys church businesses, or have a deep seated church involvement. Councillor Janet Eagland Councillor Christopher Spruce and Nick Sedgwick former Tory campaign promoter have all been directors then we have Hope-Urwin from the church who was a director that is also on a committee for the Cathedral with Councillor Alan White.

    It now becomes more apparent why St Marys has suddenly become the choice spot for moving a really nice library into a shabby little church in the centre of town, why hasn’t SCC and LDC not mentioned their councillors previous involvement with the church?
    Why has the religious issues of moving a Library into a consecrated church not been addressed, just recently SCC have been extolling libraries to be places “Free of Judgement”. public libraries are secular, i.e. not connected with religious or spiritual matters, so that the public users, who are from all walks of life and from all different age groups, gender, religion, belief, non belief, race, ethnicity, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender infact any which way they come, can feel comfortable in a “free of judgement” environment to explore and research and be educated in a safe inclusive space.
    Staffordshire County Council and Lichfield District Council have rammed this plan through against a petition that 6324 people signed and in the words of councillors was not properly debated. What happened to the public scrutiny meeting that was mentioned at that “debate” that was to take place as requested by Cllr Peaple? not a mention.

    All so they can flog off and turn a public building, property of the people of Lichfield into apartments.

    All St Marys church business directorships and committe memberships checkable through companies house and via open source information on the internet.

  4. AgitatorofPeople

    29th July, 2016 at 10:10 am

    Save Lichfield Library have posted more info about the “move” on their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/savelichfieldlibrary makes interesting reading.

  5. Scribbler

    29th July, 2016 at 10:38 am

    “A library is like an island in the middle of a vast sea of ignorance, particularly if the library is very tall and the surrounding area has been flooded.” – Lemony Snicket.

    Our large, imposing, fantastic library has been lost in the vast sea of ignorance that is local politics.

  6. Thornton

    29th July, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I’m glad that the building has been saved. This is the best decision that could have been made and now we can look forward to the old Friary building remaining.

  7. AgitatorofPeople

    29th July, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    Thornton, best decision that could have been made? for who exactly, the building was never going to be demolished, it’s only SCC councillors coming out saying that our buildings allegedly need “safeguarding” that kick started that bunch of P.R. spin bull, strangely the city has been able to maintain that building since 1921, it’s only since 2010 that this incompetent local Conservative government has apparently let it get so bad that it will cost £million to repair (and where did that £quote come from?) please take the time to remind us all why we should retain the services of such incompetent self serving fools at the next election.

  8. Thornton

    30th July, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    I don’t see what all the fuss is about. Why does it it put you in such a flutter that the building is to be owned by a private company? What’s wrong with turning it into homes? Have you got a problem with the private sector?

  9. Scribbler

    1st August, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Thoenton, I’m sure some of the new residents would love to show you around the old library once it has been ripped apart and turned into apartments. The private sector are very altruistic, especially when it concerns former public buildings and spaces. There’s a rich tradition of it London, especially on the banks of the Thames where you can still walk along the historic old paths…as long as you don’t mind clambering over the security gates, avoiding the guards and are prepared to pay the fines for trespassing.

  10. Steve

    1st August, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Ben, the private sector and the public sector have to work together. For those of us old enough. We remember when most of the councils services were given to the private sector, to safeguard services and save money.

    Council tax (or the equivalent) was not extortionate, bins were emptied every week, loads of libraries, loads of fantastic public services. They were there to serve their communities and not to make money for shareholders.

    Now we get bins emptied every 2 weeks (soon to be every 3), libraries are being closed, services are crumbling and if you can’t afford to pay, you are not able to access good services.

    We pay more every year and get worse services. Yet, a number of shareholders are getting a bigger return every year.

  11. Thornton

    2nd August, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    I give up. With such a well informed argument from the far left here I can’t see the point in ever offering another comment on this site. Good bye.

  12. JennyScience

    3rd August, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Making public-private sector partnerships work for the benefit of all is the holy grail – and as rare as rocking horse poop.
    The company I work with partners with a lot of different public sector organisations and it is really tough, but when it works it is worth the effort.
    The problem here is this isn’t a public-private sector partnership.
    The only winner in all of this is the private sector developer as the money it will make on this scheme will dwarf the amount of the council will get for selling off the library. The council has made a short-term financial gain, but in the long-term we have lost a major public asset and a prime building and facility in the heart of the city will be off limits.
    It will be interesting to discover how much it will cost to relocate the library to the new site.
    Will the money raised by the sale of the existing library be used to fund the move? If so, how much will be left over?

  13. Rob

    3rd August, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    I’m scoring this 2-0 to Thornton.

  14. Sj

    31st August, 2016 at 10:45 am

    More library users utter tosh ,just more cash in the pockets of council members and developers ,funny how they can orcastrate this in a matter of months ,but can’t fill a pothole

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