"No Doubt" about future of Library

Council and Friends of Chiswick Library give reassurance that closure is not an option

Nick Pratt, Hounslow’s Head of Cultural Strategy and Shirley Hadi, Chair of Friends of Chiswick Library, are both eager to reassure residents that they are working to secure the future of our Library.

Nick Pratt stated in a letter to ChiswickW4.com “I am writing to reassure local people that there is absolutely no doubt about the future of Chiswick Library. The Council is committed to continue to invest in the library and to develop the service as hub of learning and information in the community. The Disability Discrimination Act means that some work will need to be carried out on most of our libraries to meet the standards as set out in the Act and funding has already been allocated for this.

"It is still very early days, and though we are optimistic, whether this scheme [Workspace] goes ahead or not, I can reassure readers that there is no threat whatsoever to the future of Chiswick Library. This means that we will continue with the improvement programme, meet the requirements of the DDA Act and continue to offer good quality library services for the people of Chiswick.”

Continuing with the thread of reassurance, Shirley Hadi writes on behalf of The Friends of Chiswick Library. “The present library would not necessarily be closed when the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) comes into force next year. There will be many libraries and other public buildings in the same position as ourselves. They will not all be closed on day one. Closure would in the first instance require a complaint under the Act that cannot be resolved. If plans are in place to make the necessary improvements, it is likely that time would be given to rectify the situation that gives rise to the complaint. "

This suggests an alternative to Workspace's scheme and that is to modify Chiswick Library in such a way as to comply with the provisions of the DDA. At the last session of the Chiswick Area Committee on the 30th April a resolution was passed to the effect that costed proposals for such essential adaptations be presented for consideration at its next meeting.

She denied that the Friends' objection to the relegation of the library to a basement area under the original Wrokspace scheme had led to the developer's withdrawal saying that the scheme was subject to independent evaluation by a firm called Hillier Parker. The results of this evaluation have not been revealed to the Friend's but they understand a meeting between the Council and Workspace on the report is imminent and that discussion of the views of either party remains pure speculation.

She added, "The Friends of Chiswick Library was and remains opposed to an underground location for a public library especially when it is specific to the needs of the disabled: access only by lift or narrow staircase, a potential hazard, is unacceptable. To keep telling Workspace that their solution is ‘the only alternative to closure’ undermines the Council’s bargaining position. Quite obviously our library as it stands is inadequate now and becomes more and more so with every passing year. Radical change is required and such change has been made in other London boroughs and in other parts of the country."

The Friends of Chiswick Library hope to organise a public meeting in the near future which they say will give an opportunity for wider and lengthier informed discussion of these controversial issues than is possible on the crowded agenda of Chiswick Area Committee meetings.

May 23, 2003

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