Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/517/3664
Keep Marksbury library open!
THE FIGHT to defend Marksbury Road library from closure by Labour-controlled Bristol city council, is gathering momentum. Over 100 people at a Marksbury Area Community Association (MACA) public meeting on 14 January asked local councillors what they were doing to defend this valuable community resource. Most of the audience were distinctly unsatisfied by Labour members' equivocal responses.
Wayne Coombes, Bristol South Socialist Party and MACA member
MACA chair Robin Clapp addressed the full council on 15 January, electrifying the public gallery (the Lord Mayor said "this was the most impassioned speech we've heard in this chamber all afternoon"). This prompted a Bristol Evening Post editorial demanding that Labour drop the proposal and concentrate instead on regenerating south Bristol.
Marksbury Road estate suffers from multiple deprivations. The library is an oasis in a community that's lost much of its green space, is losing its college, is facing a battle to keep its post office, has seen its pub turned into housing and soon could be left with just a gun shop, a tattoo shop and a betting shop.
Residents decided enough is enough, with over 1,900 signatures against the library's closure in just less than two weeks.
The council tries to justify closure by showing the library is underused, but the council has a longstanding commitment to cherish and develop smaller community libraries. The local primary school added its weight to the struggle to stop closure, pointing out that 180 children use the library each week to help develop literacy and so raise Bristol's very low achievement levels.
Gordon Brown said recently in launching the Year of the Book that "literacy is one of the best anti-poverty, deprivation and crime policies we can think of". Perhaps he'll sign our petition if we send him a copy!
The £8 million budget cuts announced will cause tremendous hardship. Our library is but a small part of that package, but we have decided to fight. Our community is not prepared to compromise or be let down again.
At our public meeting last week someone said, to massive applause and cheers, that we should stand community candidates against New Labour if they proceed with these cuts, privatisations and closures. That should not be taken as an idle warning, but a firm promise - Keep Marksbury Road open!
In The Socialist 23 January 2008:
Socialist Party women
Socialist Party campaign news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news