Is it true? Has the Mayor really backed down on one of his threats of library closures?
The immediate future of Conisbrough Library has been secured – after it was taken off a Doncaster Council hit-list of libraries that were set for the axe.
The library was originally one of 14 earmarked for closure across the borough.
But a council spokesman confirmed that Mayor Peter Davies has now taken the facility off the list.
In addition, the council decided last week to use cash reserves to fund the library service for up to a further 12 months – also securing the safety of Denaby Main library for another year.
A consultation is now due to take place to discuss future options for the libraries.
Well, kind of. It is true that Conisbrough library was on the original hit-list, but the proposals were changed at the end of January and replaced Conisbrough and Cantley libraries with Balby and Intake. There are still 14 libraries earmarked for closure:
Also of note: the decision to use cash reserves to replace part of this year’s library budget was made before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 18th February. It was announced on the evening of 17th February and published on the council website on the morning of 18th February – considerably more than a week ago as reported by the South Yorkshire Times!
So, what’s this all about? Inaccurate reporting of an out-of-date issue, or something more sinister? Is the Mayor’s office trying to make him look like a kind, library-loving man, when the truth is that he simply spared one library and chose to destroy another? Conisbrough is one of the most deprived areas in Doncaster with far below average educational attainment. These issues weren’t considered when the original list of library closures was announced, and they still haven’t been now. As you can see from the map below, there are many areas in Doncaster in a similar state to Conisbrough.
Why spare one struggling area and not others? As an inquiry into the Wirral’s library closures plan found, we believe that Doncaster council too has failed on the following counts:
- The Council’s decision to reform its Library Service in the manner proposed places it in breach of its statutory duties;
- The Council failed to make an assessment of local needs in respect of its Library Services;
- The Council has not been able to demonstrate that it has had due regard to the general requirements of children;
- Because the Council did not demonstrate that it had made an adequate assessment of local needs, the Council did not act reasonably in meeting such needs through their proposals;
- There was an absence of a strategic plan or a development plan for the service;
- Without adequate plans for outreach services, the Library Service as whole will not be compliant;
- The evidence submitted to the Inquiry indicates a demonstrable need for a physical presence of a service in some areas for the following reasons:
- Where libraries are located in an area of significant deprivation
- Where the Council’s decision on which libraries to close changed
- Where the Council identified an area of need but subsequently chose to ignore this information
- Where the Council has failed to meet its own standards in terms of a reasonable distance to travel
- Where libraries have interdependent links with schools and/or children’s centres