Motherwell and Wishaw MP, Marion Fellows, has written to Chair of Culture NL, Cllr Heather McVey, to voice her views on the body’s consultation on future library provision.
Culture NL opened a consultation on library provision after they had taken the decision to close Craigneuk and Newarthill libraries without consultation with the communities.
Mrs Fellows labelled the consultation “misleading” as the decision has already been made by the Culture NL board.
Members of the local community in Craigneuk have started a petition to save their library from closure.
Commenting, Mrs Fellows said:
“Although I can understand the need for CultureNL to cut expenditure, this entire process has been shambolic.
“The decision to close the Craigneuk and Newarthill libraries has been made without consultation with the local communities or without thinking about the social implications. These are areas of high deprivation and for many, their local library is their only access to the internet.
“The decision has been made without any consideration of alternatives. A viable option is to move the Craigneuk library, for example, to the adjoining Jim Foley Centre. Although the library would not be able to function at full capacity, this would ensure that the community would still have access to vital services that the library provides.”
Dear Cllr McVey,
I have completed the online consultation by CultureNL on the future provision of library services. However, the consultation is anonymised and I thought it would be beneficial to write to you with my views.
I am deeply disappointed that CultureNL’s consultation does not give the community the option to oppose the decision to close the Craigneuk and Newarthill libraries. I believe that this is somewhat misleading people to believe that the libraries can still be saved from closure. Indeed, the decision to close the libraries has been made without any consultation with the communities affected.
There has been no consideration as to what impact this will have on the communities. Both Craigneuk and Newarthill are areas of high deprivation where, for some, access to the internet is not possible. Computer access is now essential for people finding employment. Not to mention the access that children and students have to a quiet study space and a wide range of reading material. A community library is therefore imperative for the social welfare of this area.
I also have issue with how the libraries were selected for closure. CultureNL chose to close libraries with the lowest levels of use. However, I believe a more effective way to gauge which libraries should be closed – if any – is footfall by population. But, as I previously stated, social factors should be considered also. No single factor should be a determinant for library closures.
I do understand North Lanarkshire’s need to save money. However, I do not believe that the issue has been thoroughly thought out and alternatives sought. No effort has been made to relocate the Craigneuk library, for example, in the adjoining Jim Foley Centre. Although the library would not be able to function at full capacity, this would ensure that the community would still have access to vital services that the library provides.
I look forward to your response.
Marion Fellows MP