HERE is the best of your letters on plans to close a large number of libraries in Warrington.

Smart thinking

WE are constantly reading about the critical financial state the country is in.

Most families are having to re-adjust their spending habits on a daily basis in order to make ends meet.

We understand the need for councils to go ahead with redevelopments as they are the towns’ future.

My problem is understanding the benefits of proposing to close this town’s libraries (which are steeped in history).

Like many others in this town, I am a regular user of my library and even though I do have the internet at home, I prefer to go to my library in person for my books.

I rely on the display of books to stimulate my reading habits and this would be sorely missed.

I am also aware of a large number of people who do not have the internet and don’t want it at their time of life.

They are at risk of being disadvantaged.

My suggestion would be to utilise the libraries (which are well located in their areas) and incorporate local contact centres similar to one-stop shops which would provide residents, and especially the elderly and disabled, with better access to both council and partner agency services.

Surely it would be better to make better use of what we have, rather than dispose of assets for financial reasons culminating in the loss of another service?

It only needs a bit of smart thinking to make ideas happen.

BJ FLYNN Penketh

Vital lifeline

I AM a fit and healthy 66-year-old woman but I had a conversation with someone not much older than me who is in a very different position.

She lives in Padgate and is in poor health.

She is distraught at the closure of the central library as it is her main source of reading material and entertainment.

She used to be a whizz on computers but doesn’t have one now and can no longer read a screen for any length of time.

She currently drags herself into town on the bus once a month to get as many books as she can.

What will she and people like her do when the library closes?

How can a cash-rich civilised society deny someone like her the means of remaining optimistic? Please think before you cut this vital lifeline.

If we can only have one library please let them be in a central position where people are able to travel by public transport as cross-town travel is not an option.

I would also urge you to use your powers of lobbying to ensure the Post Office keeps a dedicated shop in a central location rather than squashing it into WHSmith.

How about putting both services under one large roof with preferential rental agreements in place?

In a dying town centre we need to reinvent the high street. Please think more broadly than cash in the till, it hasn’t worked to regenerate the town centre so far.


Cold analysis

CONGRATULATIONS for a good meeting on the library closure but silent statistics were used to supply evidence for an apparently already sanctioned system.

This ignores the stentorian voices and warm welcome of the trained human staff, of interaction with fellow users, often older, less e-educated people who have worked hard to make Penketh and others great.

My encomiums are tempered with infuriation that your cold financial analysis ignores the unseen undercurrent of heartfelt love of libraries that your myopic dash for change ignores.

Consider the woeful weed-boxes on Penketh ‘Boulevard’.

No money? Think again.


Losing out

HOWEVER you see the restructuring of LiveWire and the libraries in Warrington, what is clear is the communities at the edges of the town are to lose out.

These communities house a mixture of people, some affluent, but others classed as vulnerable be they the elderly, veterans, the unemployed, those with challenges to their mobility or the young.

With a large percentage of the vulnerable unable to drive they would be reliant on the public bus service that Warrington Borough Council has already greatly reduced and for which the fares are high.

For some people the IT facilities, a walk from their house, allows the ability to search for and apply for jobs more regularly.

It leaves those who need it unable to access facilities; something I believe a socialist leaning Labour administration should be against.

From the presentation and the figures given, LiveWire has to save £650,000, of which half will come from libraries.

It was stated the libraries to close are all the highest lending ones.

There is a promise of Amazon-style lockers for lending, which one can only assume means that for £72,000 a year would provide roughly 10 per cent of the lending capacity we currently have. This does not include the staff to fill these boxes.

If we assume a minimum of two staff, the cost becomes over £100,000 per year, meaning the actual savings that need to be found elsewhere are over £400,000. The presented figures were scaremongering and poorly put together.

The last minute consultation seemed to hope few people turned up and is beyond the pale and local Labour activists were telling people in the consultation that no-one used the libraries.

In a consultation meeting LiveWire has asserted the final decision for this process laid in the council’s hands and not their own.

We see new and large vanity projects continue to be created where there is already provision and older ones removed where there will now be none.

The one remaining site in the south of Warrington, Broomfields, will become unfeasible to run in the near future, leaving no provision to those communities.


Public voice

THE Labour ruling group on Warrington Borough Council has delegated the dirty work of cutting library services to the leisure company LiveWire.

It is intended to butcher out £300,000 in cost reduction by closing libraries across the borough, as soon as possible.

Consultation has been minimal, following no advance warning.

Meetings have been planned until October 4 throughout the borough. What about users with no access to the internet?

Ordering books will also depend on the users having online access.

Where does this leave a large slice of the population?

It is intended that books will be ordered and returned from and to a ‘locker’, having made the transactions online.

Once closed, libraries will not be reopened.

Alas, I suspect these ‘consultations’ are a hollow exercise in public relations, designed to delude the electorate their opinions matter and are taken into account.

The only valid way to find out what the public thinks about the closures is to hold a local referendum, throughout the borough of Warrington.

Our leaders and masters found out to their cost that ordinary people did not necessarily agree with the politicians, in the Brexit vote. Is there a lesson here?