Keep Our Libraries Open - Nigel Ashton Tells Councillors

Cllr Nigel Ashton spoke at the recent meeting of Southport Area Committee to urge fellow Southport councillors to reject Sefton's proposed library closure plan.

Speaking to a report that he had prepared jointly with Cllr Haydn Preece of Ainsdale and Cllr Iain Brodie Browne of Birkdale, Nigel Ashton explained how over 90% of people in Meols Ward would be more than two miles from a library if the closures went ahead.

Library campaigner Cllr Nigel Ashton
Here is what Cllr Nigel Ashton told the Southport Area Committee:

"Thank you Chair. I want to speak specifically about Churchtown Library, but I'm not playing one community off against another. It is vital to keep the whole branch library network open.

"Our report shows how many people would live more than two miles from a library if Option B goes through and Churchtown Library is closed. Just within my ward, Meols ward (Churchtown, Crossens and part of Marshside) 11,500 people would be more than two miles from a library.

"That means 90% of people in the northern end of Southport more than two miles from a library - that is not a 'comprehensive and efficient' library service, and it's certainly not acceptable.

"What sort of people use Churchtown Library – well, all sorts of people, obviously. But two groups in particular are most important – children and the elderly.

"Churchtown Primary School is the 7th largest primary school in the country, with a current school roll of 891 pupils. The school has close ties with the library and classes are often taken on visits to the library. Older children use the library to learn about a wide variety of topics.

"Churchtown also has a high elderly population and for these elderly library users it is more than just a place to borrow books, it's a place where they go to meet others. For many it is a highlight of their week to go there.

"And the library is not just about lending books, whether standard print, large print, or talking books on tape or CD. The library also lends DVDs, has Internet access, newspapers and magazines for adults and teenagers, quick-reference and local history sections, and lifelong learning opportunities.

"Internet access is becoming a vital role for branch libraries, as more and more official services are accessed online, and increasingly are only accessible online.

"I wholeheartedly urge all councillors on the Southport Area Committee to support the recommendation that Sefton Cabinet reverse its proposal to close Ainsdale, Birkdale and Churchtown Libraries."