As you may have seen previously, West Berkshire Council had run a consulation relating to its proposal to close all libraries in West Berkshire apart from Newbury.
With the consultation complete, WBC made the judgement to fund all libraries APART FROM WASH COMMON and THEALE!!
Alan Macro, the WBC councillor for Theale, has already written to West Berkshire Council and our Local MP, Alok Sharma, and suggested everybody else who also wants the library to remain open does the same. Below is the letter he has written to residents encouraging others to follow suit:
Dear Fellow Resident,
you probably remember that West Berks Council was proposing to close all of its branch libraries to save money. After intervention by government ministers, the council is now proposing to keep seven branch libraries open, but not Theale! I can’t see any rationale or justification for this in the papers going to the Executive and special Council meetings on 24th March. I have set the following in an email to Steve.Broughto@westberks.gov.uk (Head of service for Culture), Hilary.Cole@westberks.gov.uk (Executive Member for Culture) and email@example.com (our MP). Please send an email to them expressing your outrage!:
I am very perturbed at the proposal to close Theale library, while keeping all the other branch libraries except Wash Common open. I have found no rationale or justification in the Executive papers for singling Theale out in this way. It also appears that it is now proposed to keep Burghfield library open, despite the fact that it was proposed to be closed in the “phase 1” savings proposals on the grounds that it is only two miles from Mortimer library. If Theale is closed, the nearest library accessible to Theale residents by public transport would be Thatcham which is nine miles away. Calcot residents would have an even longer journey. Again, there are no reasons given in the papers as to why Burghfield and most of the other branch libraries are proposed to be kept open and Theale closed.
If this closure goes ahead, there will be no public library on the “A4 corridor” between Reading and Thatcham. A large number of West Berks residents live in this area and would be affected by closure, not just Theale residents.
The fact that 383 users of Theale library, and 504 signed my petition to save the library, shows how unpopular closure would be. The 383 consultation responses for Theale was the fourth highest, after the much larger communities of Newbury, Thatcham and Hungerford.
Theale is a growing community. Sites for 400 homes have been allocated in the Housing Site Allocations DPD by the Council. 57 flats for the over 55s are in the process of being constructed. The Council is also planning to build a new primary school to accommodate the increasing numbers of children in Theale.
Theale library is shared with Theale Green School, yet there is nothing in the report about whether or how the school would continue to use the library. If the school continues to use the library, would they be amenable for the community to continue using it in some way?
No timescales are given in the Executive papers for the proposed closure or whether any time is to be allowed for the Theale community to assemble a proposal to keep the library open and to put together a business case.
I note that transitional funding is proposed to be used to keep the other libraries open in 2016/17. What is proposed to happen in 2017/18 or when the government’s transition grant funding expires in 2018/19? If it is proposed to move the other branch libraries to some other mode of operation to reduce Council spending on them then, why cannot the same be done for Theale?
Please reconsider this decision, even at this late stage. At the very least, give the community several months to allow the community to assemble a proposal and a business case to keep the library open in some way.
Note: Below is a list of those who should understand our dissatisfaction – you can send one email addressed to them all!: