Another Labour councillor revolts against her own party’s proposals to close much-loved library

Protest outside Radford/Lenton Library over proposals to close it
By Matt Jarram, Local Democracy Reporter

Two Labour councillors are revolting against their own party’s proposals which could see a much-loved library closed.

Cllr Anne Peach (Lab), who has represented the Radford area since 2013, is the latest councillor to call on the council’s leadership to drop proposals to axe Radford/Lenton Library.

Cllr Hassan Ahmed (Lab), who has represented the ward since 2018, has also made his feelings known and believes the closure will rip out “the heart and soul of the local community.”

The Labour-run authority is proposing to close Radford/Lenton Library, Basford Library and Aspley Library to claw back £233,000 of savings.

A public consultation has been launched, with nearly 2,000 people signing a petition demanding that the council ditch the plans.

Residents are worried that the closure of the Radford/Lenton Library will decimate the community, which also lost John Carroll Leisure Centre as part of the council savings plans.

Council leader, Cllr David Mellen (Lab), said a reduction in government grants had meant difficult decisions need to be made but “clearly this is not something we would want to do.”

Cllr Anne Peach told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I want to see the library kept. It is in an area of deprivation, and we do need to find ways to increase footfall but the footfall we have got is people in genuine need.

“I am part of the Labour Group and abide by collective decisions, but I can make my arguments and I have made my opinion clear.

“I have been talking to the librarians about how to make Radford/Lenton Library more of a community hub and get local groups to visit and be more involved.”

She said her fingers were crossed that the leadership decide to ditch the plans to close the much-loved facility.

More than 50 protesters gathered outside the Radford/Lenton Library on Monday, April 11, to make their feelings known.

After the protest, Cllr Hassam Ahmed told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I will be asking the leadership of the council to save the library. We will request that after the strong views of the local community.

“There is no uncertainty that local people are very unhappy about the proposals to close the library. Radford is a poor area of the city and has already lost the John Carroll Leisure Centre.

“There are not many other community facilities run by the council in the area. I understand the financial pressures on the council, which has been brought on by years of austerity by central government.

“No one in the Labour group is happy to close these facilities, but if this library closes it will take away the heart and soul of the local community.”

Cllr Sam Webster (Lab), portfolio holder for finance, said this was not a done deal and the proposals were still out for consultation until April 24.

He said “Final decisions in relation to the Nottingham library network haven’t yet been made.

“We are doing all we can to protect as many existing community facilities as possible and continuing to invest in our neighbourhoods.

“However it can’t be overstated the extent to which councils have borne the brunt of Government funding cuts over the past 12 years.

“In Nottingham our main Government grant is £100m a year less than it was – and cuts of that magnitude have serious consequences.

“Many councils felt they had no alternative but to close libraries and children’s centres years ago – something that we resisted because we know their importance to local communities and were keen to protect them.

“But after years of making savings to balance smaller and smaller budgets, we have fewer and fewer options of where we can make further savings.

“These are still proposals that are open to live public consultation, so things could still change.”

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