Victory! Bristol campaign saves library


Bristol campaign saves library

VICTORY! CAMPAIGNERS celebrated at Bristol’s Council cabinet meeting on 3 February when the ruling Labour group announced the withdrawal of their threat to close Marksbury Road library, shortly after I, as community group chair, had lambasted them once again for bringing this damaging recommendation forward.

Robin Clapp, Bedminster Socialist Party and MACA Chair – personal capacity

The minority Labour administration will pretend this u-turn was a result of them listening to the community’s concerns, but they knew the game was up when under pressure from local people, the Tories and Liberal Democrats came out against closure.

This victory was really won by the willingness of those who live on Marksbury Road estate to stand up and fight for their library. Socialist Party members played a key role in helping to lead this struggle.

The library is one of the only resources we have left in our community. The closure threat became a symbol for working people’s outrage that New Labour politicians were prepared to flog off the library land to greedy developers, while ignoring the interests of the many groups – young and elderly – who benefit from using this oasis.

Marksbury Area Community Association (MACA) collected 2,000 signatures and a public meeting of over 100 was held. Almost every day we were in the press. The local primary school, whose children use the library each week, joined the fray and 200 young people wrote letters of protest to the council.

One wrote that children would feel crushed if the library closed, especially those who don’t have computers at home. Others pointed to the hypocrisy of Gordon Brown who has just launched the Year of the Book, yet is prepared to undermine children’s learning at the same time.

Faced with this perfect storm of opposition, the council was forced to reprieve our library. But wider questions remain. This is an area where people have traditionally voted Labour, yet New Labour is cutting, closing and privatising our public services, while giving huge hand-outs to big business.

Ordinary people have become disenfranchised. Who can you vote for? It’s clearer than ever that we need a new workers’ party that stands up for the millions and not the millionaires. Socialist Party members will proudly continue to fight for communities like ours as part of the campaign to create that vital alternative.