Wolverhampton Libraries Action Group was set up to co-ordinate a city-wide response to Wolverhampton Council’s proposals for Community Hubs.
The group was first proposed on 17th July 2012 after a meeting of Wolverhampton Council’s Scrutiny Board. Residents, library campaigners and representatives of Community Centres felt that their voices had not been heard and that it would be useful to organise a collective city-wide response in addition to individual campaigns.
A further meeting was held on 31st July in the Council Chamber. Over 40 campaigners, residents and representatives of Community Centres were present. The meeting voted to create a management group who would follow three strands of action:
- continue to raise awareness of the Council’s proposals for Community hubs
- look at the financial arguments put forward by Wolverhampton City Council
- write to relevant government departments and community organisations to raise our concerns over Wolverhampton City Council’s Community Hubs proposals
During the campaign of 2012, Wolverhampton Council refused to meet the Citywide Action Group despite repeated requests from the group for a meeting. Nevertheless, the Citywide Group continued its excellent work acting as a focus for the various citywide library/community centre campaigns. The work of the citywide group’s 2012 campaign culminated in their official response document which was presented to the council in autumn 2012. Wolverhampton Council made no response. Several councillors approached the group independently and stated that the work done by the group surpassed anything they had ever experienced in their entire experience. The council’s latest plans to decimate library services suggest the setting up of a ‘Friends of Wolverhampton Libraries’. There are times when the words ‘beggars belief’ and ‘ironic’ are simply inadequate. At present, the Citywide Group is keeping a watching brief.
Why ‘libraries and community centres’? The community hubs plans involved libraries and community centres. The main objections to the plans came from library users whose voice was so eloquent and strong that community centres asked to be included. Warstones Resource Centre too was a good friend that we were able to support when their turn for cuts came. As time has passed, the focus has moved back to libraries with community centres working more locally on issues and no longer part of the citywide group. We wish all our community centre friends adieu and all the very best particularly Daisy Bank, Bradmore and the wonderful caring staff from the outstanding Warstones Resource Centre.