The Parks and East Walcot Community Forum launched a campaign last month to Save Park Library from potential closure under the new proposal for Swindon’s libraries. The Parks campaign is fully supported by the Save Swindon’s Libraries campaign group. Petitions are out for signature in businesses on Cavendish Square for the remainder of the month.
The Save Park Library petition calls upon the Council to amend their proposal only to continue funding to four of Swindon’s 15 libraries after June 2017. This amendment, if adopted, would see Park Library added to the core provision (currently only including Central, North Swindon, West Swindon and Highworth libraries) to secure the future of a library service in the south of Swindon.
The annual cost of running Park Library on its current hours is just under £90,000 and this figure is an enormous target for community groups in the area to reach. The proposal that a local group or a newly-formed parish council could take this on for the Parks is very unrealistic. Talks have been held between the Libraries team at Swindon Borough Council, local councillors, residents and campaigners to find a solution to maintain Park Library in its present location on Cavendish Square. The overwhelming response from library users is that Park Library brings footfall to local businesses on Cavendish Square and is a community focal point for residents from Park North and South and beyond.
A comprehensive and efficient library service must include a council-run library in the south of Swindon. Save Swindon’s Libraries met with the MP for Swindon South, Robert Buckland QC MP, who is also concerned for the future of Park Library, and is determined that all the options for a sustainable library service in the south of the Borough must be explored. These options should include consideration of cost-saving governance models, such as the staff-led trusts implemented in other library authority areas.