Green Party accuses Lichfield MP of insulting thousands who signed library petition

The Green Party has accused Lichfield’s MP of insulting thousands of people who signed a petition against plans to move the city’s library.

New images have shown the plans for the facility when it transfers from The Friary to St Mary’s in the Market Square.

An artist's impression of the new interior of St Mary's in the Market Square

An artist’s impression of the new interior of St Mary’s in the Market Square

Once the move is complete, the library’s former home will be redeveloped as private residential accommodation.

The proposals have been praised by Rob Wilson, Parliamentary under-secretary of state for culture, media and sport, who said the approach showed how councils needed to be imaginative in order to keep libraries.

Michael Fabricant MP

Lichfield’s Conservative MP Michael Fabricant said the move was a “win-win” and criticised the way the some elements of the local branch of the Green Party – which led a petition against the move – distributed what he says was incorrect details about the future plans for The Friary site.

“I condemn the use of misinformation and scare stories employed by some local members of the Green Party recently when they were conducting a petition to save Lichfield Library,” he said.

“I received letters from concerned constituents who were led to believe that the Friary in Lichfield, which currently houses the library, is to be demolished and a modern block of flats erected in its footprint. This was never the case.

“The Friary building will cost council taxpayers over £1million to repair water ingress from the roof and elsewhere. Meanwhile, the loss making Heritage Centre in St Mary’s Church in the Market Square was unsustainable.

“So the sale of the Friary with strict obligations to maintain its appearance and repair of the building while moving the library into St Mary’s, so securing both the future of the library and the Heritage Centre is a win-win situation.

“It is a model for imaginative thinking and I was pleased to raise it in Parliament. Credit where credit is due.”

Robert Pass

Robert Pass

But Robert Pass, chair of the Lichfield and Burntwood branch of the Green Party, said his party was committed to highlighting the local impact of the Government’s “austerity agenda”.

He said: “Mr Fabricant’s remarks are an insult to the 5,562 people from the area who signed the petition.

“The petition was calling for the people of Lichfield to be consulted on the future of their much-loved library. Instead, nearly all of the councillors who spoke completely ignored the content of the petition, and just talked up the move to St Mary’s and what a wonderful idea it was.

“The truth is that so many people we speak to are angry about the drastic cuts to public services and sale of valuable public assets.

“The Lichfield and Burntwood Green Party will continue to fight this damaging austerity agenda, which Lichfield’s MP shamefully and enthusiastically supports.”

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Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

5 Comments

  1. John

    15th February, 2017 at 11:17 am

    An extra 4 million people have slipped below the minimum income standard since the Tories came to power.

    We’ve had 6 years of stagnation, accompanied now by inflation. The government’s austerity policy has taken demand out of the economy and crippled local councils.

    Fabricant is trying to put a positive spin on the fact that this city has lost one of its best public buildings, which will now be out of bounds for future generations.

    I’m angry that our MP doesn’t care about the poorest in our society and the damaging effect of his party’s decisions. And for the record, his remarks about refugees were disgraceful.

  2. Darryl

    15th February, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    John, unless you’ve got grey hair, read The Daily Fail and a £300k house, Fabricant doesn’t care about you and given our demographic, it’s unlikely to change in the near future.

  3. Steve

    15th February, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Just when you think you know how incompetent and out of touch he is.

    He takes it up a level.

  4. Agitatorofpeople

    15th February, 2017 at 9:22 pm

    “I condemn the use of misinformation and scare stories employed by some local members of the Green Party recently when they were conducting a petition to save Lichfield Library,” Wooooh the scary Greens!

    That’s strange Mr Fabricant, I recall that you had spoken with one of the “elements” of the Green party while collecting petition signatures, where they explained quite clearly to you what the petition was about, you were amicable to their plight but you would not sign the petition as your fellow party councillors might be a little put out!

    As was researched and made available by campaigners on the Save Lichfield Library facebook page, Staffordshire County Council never gave a referenced price to restore the Friary even when asked via Freedom of Information act, figures quoted in press releases by councillors ranged from £500,000 to £1.2 million with no actual basis or proof of what really needed to be done to preserve the Friary building. The roofing has not had any major renovation or stripped off of the current part of the building already developed into apartments, so we the public can only guess at the actual cost.

    My opinion, as you have stated yours, is that it did not need anywhere near that sum of money to restore and it was devised (a model of imaginative thinking?)as a way to “Justify” it’s sale, another valuable public asset to be stripped, I hope you managed at least a small round of applause when you raised it in parliament.

    I and I am sure other members of the public would be very pleased to be proved wrong on this point and see the quotes and reports that say otherwise!

    As for the loss making “Heritage Centre” it was always part of The Guild of St Mary’s Limited when did SCC & LDC start propping up failing private business with public money. Given the amount of coffee shops that have opened in Lichfield recently how did they manage to lose money with theirs?

    There is a whole new vernacular for this sort of government press release I believe they call it Fake news, or alternative facts.

    The “elements” of the local Green Party must be laughing their asses off!!

  5. mike

    15th February, 2017 at 10:42 pm

    It was perfectly clear to me what was at the heart of the campaign the green party ran: They wanted the council to have a full and open public debate on the future of a much loved local building. And to explain why public funds were going to be used to restore a PRIVATELY owned building.
    In times of austerity it seemed perfectly reasonable to ask the local diocese to fund the restoration of their own building. Not local residents through the friary building sell off. Don’t insult me by saying I didn’t understand the purpose of the petition. And well done the greens for trying to exercise their democratic rights and those of the residents of this area.I’d love to see these letters Mr. fabricant received if he could just publish them for us.