Save Burnage Library

Burnage library opened in 1974, replacing the previous, fire damaged library. Since then, it has provided the community with an essential service for learning and leisure and has maintained a central position in the community as other council services have eroded over the years.

Locally, it is the last surviving public council facility, which provides an essential resource for young and old alike and we are fighting to stop its merciless closure. Please lend your support our campaign and help keep Burnage library open!

Campaign meetings are public and take place at Burnage Community Centre on Wednesday evenings, 6pm - 8pm until the decision on the consultation on the 17th April 2013.

Sign the online petition at;

Alternatively, sign the petitions at the health centre, library and other outlets and don't forget to like our Facebook page at:

Thursday, 14 March 2013

The Battle Rages On...

“You don't have to burn books to
destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ― Ray Bradbury

As many a commentator has said at various points through this enduring financial crisis the world finds itself in, "we find ourselves at the edge of a precipice".

I was saddened to find out that on Friday 8th March 2013, despite campaigner efforts, Manchester City Council, led by Sir Richard Leese, backed the £80million worth of cuts which would likely see several library and leisure services in Manchester closed permanently. The libraries on death row include our very own Burnage library.

The budgetary approval capped off a difficult week for our courageous team. Due to a technical glitch, an amendment submitted in time to the council by local councillor Bev Craig, was not received by the deadline of 4pm on the day of submission. This unfortunately meant that the amendment, which formed part of a wider proposal, was not available in time for the general council meeting.  We have been assured that it will be considered and there is technical proof that it had been sent before the deadline, so should be considered as a matter of process.

Additionally, the amendments submitted for Fallowfield upon which our amendment was based, included the wording:

"Council welcomes the transformation of our Library Service, with new co-located neighbourhood libraries and the significant investment programme in Central Library."

Which was certainly not what we support. Burnage Library should stay open as it is now. So there was some confusion regarding that line. We want the library to stay open as it is!!

The Manchester Evening News report on the council meeting indicated the political dynamics, but also the strength of feeling that the contingents of various campaigns exhibited. Members of our core team attended the general council meeting and sat quietly and obediently through, watching the process unfold.

In the end, the labour majority approved the budget :-(

The council budgetary process seems top down, the same as central to local government allocation. They set the budget, including each top level departmental budget line and then decide how to allocate it. We don't want any libraries to close but the side-effect of this budgetary decision may be internal 'dogfighting' to get the scraps of funding to keep each ward's local provisions open. This could degenerate the coordinated campaigns, which would suit the council perfectly, because we would be so busy fighting for the scraps, they would just pass closure decisions without too much issue. Let's not let that happen! We are stronger united!

Can we get a reprieve? Well, from the council's own consultation document, we know previous reprieves on prior library and leisure budgets have had detrimental effects on library usage, because they couldn't change the money they had been allocated. So they saved by cutting opening hours and closed libraries during lunchtimes. This one hour closure, reduced library lending by 11%, with 11% less active users, 16.8% reduction in PC usage and visits had fallen by 21%.

21%!!!... for a one hour closure!? What worries me about this particular number, never mind all the others,  is that 1 hour closure in an 8 hour day is 12.5%. So if they had modelled it as a steady footfall all day, it means that they got their sums badly wrong! It obvious from this that lunchtime has a higher footfall than average and that this one hour closure happened at a peak usage time. In my mind, this was a very bad decision to get value for money, because the fixed costs meant the money they were putting in per person, was actually going to waste! They were not applying it at the right time. So this doesn't fill me with confidence that the council know what they are doing when it comes to decisions like that and so I'm worried about the key decision to cut our library service budgets!!

So, what can we do? Where now?

Remember, the top down nature of budget setting means they don't know how to spend the money yet. This means we have still got time for our parallel strands to action change.

Well, it's not all bad news. We have been buoyed by the news that our campaign letters and e-mails, written by a substantial number of our supporters and all of our core team have had by far the biggest impact on the council. They were impressed apparently with our tenacity. So thank you to everyone who has done that so far. This is our most effective line and this is route should definitely continue. 

We have been informed that e-mails are submitted in addition to letters as part of the consultation. This means that we should write, fax and e-mail our disapproval. Tweet to your friends about the potential closure of Burnage Library. Tweet and send e-mail to local celebrities such as Max Beesley, Noel and Liam Gallagher and Wes Brown and ask them to help our campaign. Include the hashtag #saveburnagelibrary in your tweets. Maybe also include reading quotes like the one at the top of this post.

Also, Burnage Library doesn't cost a huge amount to run relative to many other libraries in the city and as was reiterated in tonight's meeting, they won't get much back from us in terms of financial savings. However, the costs to the community now and in the future will be huge. These costs will shift on to other departments in time. This can be in the form of increased health and social care costs or costs to address indirect effects of facilities closure, including education and antisocial behaviour, amongst a whole host of issues that the council freely admits to being an unknown quantity. The council may have the budget for those other effects now, but without knowing the effect library closures will have on an already stretched community, it is extremely likely that they have wholly overestimated the overall savings the council will make or the quality of service they can deliver.

Let's not forget, there hasn't been an assessment of demographic fairness yet. This is another angle that we will pursue. Burnage Library users seem to fall into a couple of very key age groups, both will be affected disproportionately and hence unfairly, by the closure. Both groups with enduring negative effect. The equality act has to be considered as part of any council consultation on service closure. This is a very important line that we should pursue. 

On the 30th March, there is a Levenshulme library protest being held in Albert Square outside the council offices. Burnage will be there in support with banners and placards. Come and support us, with all the affected libraries at Albert square on the 30th March.

The council are prodding us further over the edge of the gaping precipice we Burnage residents find ourselves staring over. As someone who's directly benefited from the library over the years, I for one am turning around and saying "No more!".

Who's with me?


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