Several months after closing both Unsworth and Whitefield libraries, taking a whole bunch of community services with them when they went, Bury’s Labour party are patting themselves on the back and telling residents they’ve “saved” the buildings. In fact, the buildings are likely to be sold to the Elms Bank School and Elms Bank Specialist Art College respectively.
While it is no doubt a little bit of bright news (that neither building will be allowed to rot away), the fact that we have lost our two local libraries cannot be spun as being saved in any way shape or form. Bury’s Labour council refused to listen when I sent in our petition, signed by local Unsworth and Whitefield residents, demanding that our libaries be saved. They refused to listen to all of our comments during the consultation, where library users explained how they relied upon the many community services that were provided at the library centres.
Instead, Bury Labour have instructed council officers to hand the buildings over Elms Bank – it’s not clear yet if the school and college will be leasing the buildings from the council or if they are to be disposed of in a sale. Additionally, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon that the buildings might both be brought back into use for the local community. I look forward to reading and hearing about the plans Elms Bank have for both sites, in particular the old Unsworth library building, as I live very close to it.
I will let you know more details about the future of Unsworth and Whitefield library buildings as soon as I discover the details. In the meantime, do not believe anyone who tells you that Labour have “saved” our libraries. No, they closed them.