Swindon’s residents are turning out at libraries around the Borough, to show their support for the service at Swindon Borough Council’s ongoing series of engagement process events.
The process is being carried out to find how the council can make £1.6 million worth of cuts to the library service over the next four years.
At Park Library, attendees included members of the public alongside a representative from the Tenants’ Association for Sheltered Housing (TASH), Cllr Derique Montaut (Liden, Eldene and Park South), and Martin Wicks, as well as Sarah Church from the Save Swindon’s Libraries campaign. Members of the public included families with small children and a local resident of 94.
“All ages are represented here, which demonstrates how vital this service is to all sectors of the community,” said Sarah Church. “I’ve met people here from Walcot too, and I’ve been hearing that here in Parks, access is key for library users who are elderly or who have limited mobility – most cannot get to Central Library.”
At Wroughton, Talis Kimberley-Fairbourn (Save Swindon’s Libraries) attended alongside Cllr Wayne Crabbe (Wroughton and Wichelstowe) and residents from all over the ward.
“What we’ve seen here in the feedback from members of the public mirrors what we’ve seen at the other events,” Talis reported, “namely that residents don’t want to engage with the Council on changing their service, so much as they’re turning up to say a very clear NO to the budget cuts.”
Sarah Church agrees with this. “I think it’s clear that the public don’t want to be complicit in the reduction of the professional service they value so highly. Swindon Borough say that there are no solid plans on the table yet, but the tenor of the engagement process so far does seem to ask communities how they can help Swindon spend less on libraries. That’s a leading sort of question, and residents around the Borough are answering instead that they don’t want to see any cuts at all in library services.”
The engagement process continues with events at libraries around the town, and an online questionnaire at Swindon Borough Council’s website.