"That must be wonderful; I have no idea of what it means." - Albert Camus
Following on from our submitted impact analysis transport and my comments in the previous blog, I was looking at Appendix 8, with it's distinct lack of legend or key trying to figure out what it was showing us. Two maps imply 20 minutes of walking and public transport catchments areas for both the current and proposed estate. This is an important and relevant analysis, but what I noted was that Appendix 8 is not explicitly referenced anywhere in the library consultation report.
After a bit of head scratching, I managed to work out what these maps were. This pink background on the two contour maps show the reader the catchment area for 20 minutes of walking or travelling by public transport to a library somewhere on the estate. The pins, which you can barely see in the report show the location of the library estate. Finally, the combination of blue, red, yellow, green, olive green and lavender contour lines effectively bound the Manchester City Council catchment area as a whole. OK, so far so good.
However the report is presented on two pages, so it is not easy to see the differences in the accessibility of the estate. So I took both maps and overlay them to find the difference and for clarity I produced the following map. Yes it does look like a 'spot the difference' competition. Indeed, that is effectively what it is :-)
|fig 1 - Transportation differences between current proposed estate (click to enlarge)|
Important NotesThere are 5 major areas which are going to see accessibility to a library drop. Following on from yesterday's critique, these are the areas surrounding New Moston, (circle A), Burnage (B), Barlow Moor (C and D), Northenden (D and E). The component drop in provision for each area of the Manchester Library and Information Services estate is large. Burnage, Northenden and New Moston in particular will find themselves impacted with very large loss of accessibility.
In appendix 8 of the library consultation report, you can probably see 'spots' of accessibility and service provision such as those in the top right and also circled in region B in my diagram and may be wondering why it isn't connected to the rest of the background colour. After all, you would assume that if you lived in those areas and they are within 20 minutes walk of the library estate and walked to a library, then anywhere on your journey is also within that distance right? And you'd be correct, for walking.
I pretty strongly suspect these spots are due to public transport links, since if a bus stop doesn't exist at a specific point in the route, you can't catch the bus from there. Since you can only catch it from a bus stop, the next bus stop in the journey would be the next spot along or you go into the main body of the pink background. The reason they are circles and not just 'dots' is because of a walking 'window' to the bus stop which allows the analysis to include it a 20 minute journey in total (i.e. the bus journey and the walking to and from the bus stop associated with it). For example, if the bus journey is 18 minutes, then the circle of walking would be 2 minutes from a bus stop, so the size of the spot is quite small. If the bus journey is 5 minutes, then the radius of walking is 10 minutes, which would be 5 times larger in diameter than the 2 minute spot (around 25 times larger in area).
Importantly, the new library estate opens up a hole in provision where Barlow Moor library is (circle D) and the combined closure of Northenden Library mutually affect residents of both regions. The same 'double whammy' is true for Burnage and Levenshulme residents (circle E).
Additionally, due to the aggregate grouping of the walking and bus times, the move from a resident walking to a resident catching a bus (or two, as we have seen previously) is not recorded. Ignoring that the analysis does not appear to have taken appendix 8 into account, this means that larger detrimental effects which include more than one bus journey within that 20 minute window will occur due to the intermediate leg waiting times. A long wait in the intermediate leg of a journey, is impossible to determine from these maps alone.
Hence, for those catching two buses, especially those on the north side of Burnage (although they are shown here within 20 minute from the estate), the wait at the intermediate stop would take residents using public transport over the 20 minute journey time which is somewhat corroborated using the 30 minute frequency given on page 93 of the library consultation report.
Charteris ImplicationsThe Charteris report highlighted that Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council took travelling times into account as it considered it a better measure of accessibility and impact than the straight line distance. Given I submitted that within our transport impact assessment report, I definitely agree that this is true. However, again, MCC insist on using straight line distance, which are irrelevant measure to the population of Manchester. Travelling by car requires using a road, which in Manchester, is never the shortest distance between two points. Using public transport, you can only go where the bus or train goes and that is also not the shortest distance as the crow flies. So it was adjudged that Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council actually did that right and the Charteris report didn't fault them on that specific point.
Hence, MCC with it's 'as the crow flies' measure is likely to fall foul of the Charteris outcome. The granularity and analysis of this information is inadequate and indeed, is not included at all. Presenting a diagram without reference to the analysis conducted using it, does not constitute having analysed the impact. It's 'lip service'.
SummaryYet again, MLIS don't appear to know what they are analysing. As we have seen in the first critique, the decision to back the proposals within the library consultation is based on corroborating the original decision to close those libraries. As I showed then, the decision is not fair and impartial and is not based on anything other than catchment area size. It doesn't care or take into account the impact assessments nor does it care about the provisions for protected characteristics (specifically children and young people).
As we in the Save Burnage Library campaign showed in our Impact assessment on community literacy and demographics, the effect of these closures on children of those library catchment areas where accessible provision will not be available will massively impact those individuals for the rest of their lives, decrease the Manchester literacy rate, increase costs to MCC in other budgetary areas to solve the resulting social difficulties, disadvantage not just those individuals, but the entire city as the proportion of the local skilled workforce declines. This would mean Manchester becomes dependent on immigrated income from other parts of the UK, whilst simultaneously potentially seeing knowledge emigration out of the city.
I call upon the councillors of the neighbourhood scrutiny committee to return or reject this report on the grounds it has not considered relevant evidence and also considered irrelevant material.