The Bexley Council ‘Consultation on proposals to remodel the Bexley Library Service’ released in September 2014 details plans to retain 6 libraries in its ‘core service’ with remaining libraries being either taken over by community organisations or being closed. The 6 ‘core’ libraries are Central (Bexleyheath), Welling, Crayford, Thamesmead, Sidcup and Erith. One of the libraries to be cut from the core service is Blackfen. The document states:
“4 of the 6 libraries are currently the borough’s busiest, and it is anticipated that when the regeneration schemes in Thamesmead and Crayford are completed, these libraries will regain their previous usage levels, which would result in the 6 Council-retained libraries being the 6 busiest in the borough”.
The statement ‘4 of the 6 libraries are currently the borough’s busiest’ omits the fact that Blackfen is one of the missing two of the six (the other is North Heath). Indeed, Blackfen’s visitor numbers have been increasing: during the period 2010-13 Blackfen was ranked number five of eleven libraries in terms of visitor numbers and in the period 2013-14 it went up to number four of eleven. In that whole time it was well ahead of Thamesmead (which has gone from 6th, to 7th, to 8th) and Crayford (8th, and rising to 7th in 2013-14).
[Crayford’s new library opened in November 2012, and Thamesmead moved to a temporary building in November 2013].
So even if Thamesmead and Crayford ‘regain their previous usage levels’ they would still be well and truly behind Blackfen. The figures on library usage do not seem to back up the Council’s statement.
“Bexley Library Service – Engaging communities, enriching and improving lives” so they say. But at the expense of the extremely successful library at Blackfen?