Protest meeting bid to save Stow Hill library
5:00pm Thursday 21st March 2013 in News
PROTESTORS fighting to overturn Newport City Council’s decision to axe Stow Hill library held a lively public meeting on Wednesday night.
Around 30 people were in the council chamber at the Civic Centre to discuss what action to take next in their ongoing battle to save the library which they say is a "lifeline" for many people in the area.
Residents were concerned that they had been "singled out" by the council as they are now the only one of Newporr12 libraries set to close, when the doors shut for the final time on March 27.
Cabinet member for leisure and culture, Cllr Debbie Wilcox, the cabinet member responsible for the decision said the meeting would mislead the public.
Cllr Wilcox, said: "Calling this meeting will only serve to mislead our residents and raise expectations when the decision on this matter has already been taken in an open and transparent manner, “We are fortunate that we have so many libraries in the city and Stow Hill is extremely close to Central Library which has the widest offer of library services in Newport."
Author and historian, Alan Roderick, who has so far collected 822 petition signatures urging the council to reverse their decision, said: "If the council wanted to keep Stow Hill open they could, why not reduce the opening hours like everywhere else?
"Why single us out?"
His sentiments were echoed by many in the meeting who said they could adjust to shorter opening hours but feared losing the facility.
Joy Brister, a member of the reading group based at the library, said: "When the council’s finances improve, as the Government says they will we will have no chance of getting that library back. Once it’s gone it’s gone."
Another resident John Hallam said he was concerned about the precedent cutting the library set and said he worried other libraries will be next.
"We need to make it clear we are not happy about this cultural attack in Newport," Mr Hallam said.
Former leader of the council, Conservative group leader Matthew Evans, who chaired the meeting, closed the evening by saying: "The £13,000 they would save by closing this library is a paltry amount for such a precious resource. Once it’s closed it will never re-open."
The campaign group have written an open letter, signed by writers including the National Pet of Wales Gillian Clarke and Young People’s Laureate for Wales Catherine Fisher.
No council officers attended the meeting.
What the letter urges.
"Libraries are treasure houses of literature and Stow Hill is no exception. It is a lifeline for many in its multi-national catchment area. Old and young delight in it and it provides a safe and caring environment for everyone, including the toddlers who visit it with their mothers.
“School children working on their projects use it. They are our investment in the future.
"Stow Hill library, the "little" library, is part of Newport's history and heritage and is fondly remembered by many. It would be a crying shame to see it go, but it doesn't have to be that way."