Billboard goes up in Nottingham as city council proposes closure of 3 libraries

A billboard has gone up in Nottingham calling for three libraries to be saved as they face the axe amid city council plans to balance its books. It comes as a Labour councillor spoke out against his own party’s proposals.

A campaign group, Save Nottingham Libraries, says it costs £450 for one electronic billboard and around £800 for two. Through a crowdfunder the group managed to purchase one which has gone up in Nottingham Road.

The group says: “We’ll book as many as we can afford to run for two weeks in the run up to the closure. We believe we can win, but we only have a few weeks left. Libraries like these are a gift from a previous generation and we should do everything we can to ensure we pass them on.”

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According to the crowdfunder page a total of £1,405 has been raised. The Labour-run council is proposing to close Basford Library in Vernon Road, the Radford Lenton Library in Lenton Boulevard and Aspley Library in Nuthall Road.

A new central library is due to open in the new Broad Marsh Car Park and Bus Station site, replacing the Angel Row library. The council says the three libraries facing the axe have low usage with 22,680 annual visits to Basford Library, 7,920 visits at the Radford/Lenton library and 38,820 in Aspley. The plans would save £233,000.

The Five Leaves Bookshop, in Long Row, also says a number of the city’s writers have backed the campaign to save the libraries from closure. It said copies of a book they have contributed to, arguing their case, have been sent to councillors.

The independent store says: “Free, from the bookshop, Words for Our Libraries: Nottingham writers against library closures, with contributions by Henry Normal poet, Susan Finlay, Vic Blake, Manjit Sahota, Ronne Randall, Ayana Sen-Handley, Andrew Thacker, Neil Fulwood, Chris Towers, Sian Steans, Chris Cook and the original letter signed by well over 100 local writers protesting against planned closures of three libraries.

“Funded by Spokesman Books and Five Leaves Books for Save Nottingham Libraries. Copies have been sent to all city councillors and Nottingham MPs.”

Upon attending a protest at a consultation event Labour councillor Hassan Ahmed, who represents Radford, spoke out against his own party over the proposals. He said: “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.”

Responding Castle ward councillor, Sam Webster, who is the portfolio holder for finance, 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.