Letter to Editor: The importance of libraries in Harlow

Sir,

Education in general and reading in particular is only second to health in its importance in any socially developed society in my view.

Therefore, the decision of Essex County Council [ECC] to seriously consider closing the majority of locally based community libraries in this the town is very disturbing.

The format and criteria of their consultation on this important issue is based on a four tier appraisal structure with Mark Hall and Tye Green libraries rated in the third and fourth tier making them susceptible to closure.

However, Old Harlow Library, the smallest library in the town, is appraised in tier two of the structure making it, realistically, a clear candidate of staying open due in the main because it meets the set criteria which includes, inter alia, a measure of deprivation. I wonder if the three local Conservative councillors knew the Old Harlow area may suffer from an element of deprivation. Perhaps the project managers of ECC hadn’t visited the Tye Green, Mark Hall and indeed Staple Tye areas to evaluate their level of deprivation: I suspect not.

Indeed I just hope the assessment of Old Harlow didn’t include a political bias element because if it did then I would advise the residents’ of Mark Hall, Tye Green and Staple Tye to bring forward a Judicial Review hearing to hold ECC to account for their actions.

Finally, closing local libraries in this town is irresponsible and inhibits the development of every demographic group but in particular the young and should be a major concern for every parent in this town. I would urge all parents of young children to complete the ECC survey on this issue or express their views directly to their local Essex County councillor in an effort to save the library service in this town from closure.

Regards

Gary Roberts

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2 Responses to "Letter to Editor: The importance of libraries in Harlow"

  1. MickyB77   December 28, 2018 at 5:01 am

    Very presumptuous indeed. Very rarely have I seen young children, with or without
    parents perusing the bookshelves in Old Harlow, but, I’ve seen them, often, tickling the keys on the computers, and, of course, using other techno gadgets, on hand.

  2. tony edwards   January 2, 2019 at 10:39 am

    I do not want to see any Harlow Library closed – they are too valuable to lose, they serve and enrich our communities.

    According to the Essex County Council criteria library “needs will be assessed by looking at their location, how well used they are and data about population, deprivation and social isolation”.

    From the information given in the Essex County Council Cabinet Papers Old Harlow Library was initially given a tier 4 classification. It was subsequently adjusted to a tier 2 classification because of the Two mile rule – (it is 2.3 miles from the nearest Library if Mark Hall Library is closed.)

    The fact that Tye Green,Great Parndon libraries each have greater active member usage and all of the other Harlow Libraries have higher deprivation scores has been ignored.

    An “active user” is someone who has a library card – Essex do not take into account the number of people who use the library on a casual basis as a community resource.

    Old Harlow Library has 1730 active users
    Tye Green 1855 active users
    Great Parndon 2034 active users

    Incidentally according to the County Council’s published figures in Mark Hall 55% of the “active users” are under the age of 19, in Old Harlow it is 49%, Great Parndon 44% Tye Green 65%

    Across the town as a whole we currently have a one library for approximately 17500 people. The National UK average is one Library to 22500 people

    If these proposals go through we will have one library for 43750 people – such is the scale of these proposed cuts.

    Be sure to to have your say by going on to the Essex County Council Website and register your views. See link below
    https://libraries.essex.gov.uk/libraries-consultation/

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