The petition to Save Blackfen Library was presented at a Bexley Council Cabinet meeting on 17 December 2014. Karen Mensa-Bonsu argued the case for keeping Blackfen as a Council-run library and answered questions by councillors about why we do not want it to be ‘downgraded’ and removed from the Council’s core service. Figures show that Blackfen is the fourth busiest in the borough, contradicting the consultation document. Blackfen Library is a vital resource to the community and its position in the high street increases incidental trade in the shops. It is used by many groups for both adults and children, and local school groups are able to walk there to learn about the use of professional library services.
As a large and busy library, it might not be suitable for community management, and Council services (blue badges, parking permits, Council tax payments, etc) would be lost. If the library is closed – a real risk if no community organisation is found to run it – a vital community resource would be lost.
Despite the opposition, the Cabinet Members voted to pass the proposal to remove four libraries, including Blackfen, from the core service. This means that the Council will now seek partnerships with community organisations to run the library. This leaves plenty of questions about how these organisations will be found and whether the community will have any involvement in the process at all. And if none is found, it means closure.
Cllr Alex Sawyer, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Leisure (with responsibilities for libraries) gave the quote of the night: “When I want to look something up I don’t look in a book, I look at Wikipedia”.
I find it disturbing that someone with such little regard for truth and accurate knowledge is taking important decisions about the lives of Bexley Borough residents.
[More assessment of the evening to come later, as I didn’t get home from the meeting till after 10pm and during the day I have to work for a living!]