- Ealing Council; Ealing Councillors; Mayor of London
- United Kingdom
UPDATE 25 APRIL 2019
A second consultation event is being held for Hanwell Library, to discuss the Council's proposals to put the Library out for management by a Community Organisation rather than delivery of the service at Hanwell direct by the Council.
Date: Tuesday 30 April 2019
Venue: Junior Hall, St Joseph's Primary School
Please come along if you are able to hear what they say and let them now your views.
The first Hanwell Library Consultation event was held at Hanwell Community Centre, rather than at a venue close to the library itself. It was poorly advertised and consequently poorly attended by users, and potential users, of Hanwell Library.
Ealing Council ‘Consultation’
Ealing Council is currently undertaking a Public Consultation with a view to reducing the number of Libraries available to the people of Ealing.
Their plan is for the Council to run six main libraries; Ealing Central, Acton, Northolt, Southall, Jubilee Gardens and Northolt Leisure. These will be properly funded by the Council with paid staff.
The remaining seven libraries - Greenford, Hanwell, Perivale, Northfields, Pitshanger, West Ealing and Wood End - would be handed over to local community groups and run by volunteers. The Council has been quite explicit about the fate of these Community Managed Libraries (CML). If community groups don’t step forward to take over the running of these libraries, they will close and there will no longer be a library service in that area.
This is not the first attempt to close Hanwell Library. There was an attempt in 1990 and more recently in 2011/2012. On both occasions vigorous campaigns by local residents managed to persuade the Council not to continue with closure. In fact after the last attempt the Council funded the renovation and redecoration of Hanwell Library thereby restoring it to its former glory.
However our joy was short-lived as later on the Council did a deal with first John Laing, subsequently bought out by Carillion, to manage the library service. That all came to naught when Carillion collapsed amidst much negative publicity about mismanagement. In the circumstances the Council had little room for manoeuvre and took the libraries back into Council control.
The need for locally based public libraries, accessible on foot, is still compelling. Literacy rates in the UK are still poor. Poor literacy doesn’t just affect employment prospects and career advancement. Children born into communities with poor literacy standards have some of the lowest life expectancy rates in England (National Literacy Trust).
An OECD Report of 2015 found that England is the only country in the developed world in which those aged 55-65 do better in literacy and numeracy than those aged 16-24.
In 2010, before the eligibility for free school meals included all children in Reception through to Year 2 (age 6-7), approximately one third of children receiving free school meals did not reach standards in literacy at 11 years old (Key Stage2) - statistics quoted by then, and current, Schools Minister, Nick Gibb in November 2010. Thus deprivation can be linked to poor literacy levels.
Early access to libraries is essential for providing a wide range of books for children to encourage children to develop an enjoyment in reading for pleasure. Reading for pleasure is the foundation upon which fluency in reading and writing is built. Literacy skills are the foundation upon which children build life skills in preparation for their future independent lives.
Adult Literacy is still a problem in the UK. One in five people in the UK struggle to read and write according to the National Literacy Trust. This means their literacy is below the level expected of an eleven year old. Men and women with poor literacy are less likely to be in full-time employment at the age of thirty.
These problems are endemic across the country, yet 92% of the British public say literacy is vital to the economy and essential to getting a good job. Libraries are still a vital resource in reducing illiteracy.
Free Internet Access
Libraries provide free access to the internet which is of great value to students. Whilst it is true that more households have access to the internet (91% according to the National Office of Statistics) than when Hanwell Library was last at risk in 2011, there are still pockets of poverty where household computer ownership and broadband access is low; 9% of households do not have internet access.
Easy Access to Library on Foot
Hanwell Library is within easy walking/bussing distance of eight Primary Schools (St Joseph’s RC PS, Hobbayne PS, Oaklands PS, St Mark’s PS, Brentside PS, Mayfield PS, The Welsh School, Lycee français Malraux School); six Preschool Nurseries (Hanwell Bunnies Preschool Play Group, Les Jardins d’Emile, Sticky Fingers Day Nursery, Bunny Park Day Nursery, Hanwell Montessori Nursery and Pre-School, Button’s Day Nursery); two special schools (St Ann’s and Springhallow) and four High Schools (Brentside, Drayton Manor, Ealing Fields and Elthorne Park).
Several of the Preschool Nurseries and Primary Schools arrange outings for their pupils to Hanwell Library, a practice which breeds an early familiarity with books. Children are encouraged to see Hanwell’s Library Service as a gateway to access a range of books for reading pleasure, learning and project work. With better book stock and marketing the level of use by this group could be easily increased.
Close proximity to such a variety of schools is an additional factor of value for Hanwell Library. Free internet access and quiet workstations provide extra resources that may not be available to many students at home.
Why the Council Needs to Continue to Fund Hanwell Library
We believe that Hanwell Library is an irreplaceable, highly valued, easily accessible and essential service which should be retained and provided by the Council out of Council taxes against a strategic plan to improve the service.
It should not be run by a Charitable Trust or a community or other voluntary organisation which would take control for the standard of service away from Hanwell’s electorate.
We believe that it is essential that Hanwell Library continues to provide its local community with a service easily accessed on foot. That service comprising books, the internet and other library-based services such as spaces for networking and information sharing, and children’s workshops, will help future generations of children to learn to read for enjoyment. This in turn will minimise the incidence of adult functional illiteracy and the impact this has on personal lives. Hanwell’s future prosperity and the local and national well-being of future generations is a prize worth winning and saving Hanwell Library is a vital part of that programme.
Whilst internet access for the general public has increased in the last few years it is estimated that about 10% of the British population still lack ready access to it. Hanwell Library, like all of Ealing’s libraries offers free access to computers and the internet. Printing of documents is also available although there is a small charge for this service. One of the growth areas of computer use is amongst many elderly people, the ‘silver surfers’. It can be expensive to set up a broadband service in your front room and there is no doubt that library-provided internet access is a real boon and enables the public to keep in touch with relations who may be scattered around the world.
Asset of Community Value (Localism Act 2011)
Hanwell Library was built in 1904/5, with a grant from Andrew Carnegie.
In October 2017, Hanwell Library was successfully registered by Hanwell Community Forum (HCF) as an Asset of Community Value under the Localism Act 2011. As such, should they decide to dispose of the asset, the Council would be obliged to offer the nominating community group an opportunity to find a way of acquiring the asset, and a moratorium of six months is imposed in order to give the Community time to put together a bid. This may become relevant following the outcome of the Libraries Consultation.
CALL FOR SKILLED VOLUNTEERS TO HELP WITH A BID
If you have time to volunteer for ongoing support of Hanwell Library, and have skills such as accountancy, communications, marketing, librarianship, book sales/publishing, human resources, strategic planning etc that could help should we need to bid for the Library, please get in contact with Hanwell Library Users’ Group at firstname.lastname@example.org .
We the undersigned call on Ealing Council to listen to the community and abandon its plan to attempt to force the community to run Hanwell library.
We believe that Hanwell Library is an irreplaceable, highly valued, easily accessible and essential service which should be retained and provided by the Council out of Council taxes against a strategic plan to improve the service. It should not be run by a Charitable Trust or a community or other voluntary organisation which would take control for the standard of service away from Hanwell’s electorate.
We do not want Ealing Council to close Hanwell Library, use the purpose-built building to deliver other Council services, or even to sell it for development.
The Save Hanwell Library 2019 petition to Ealing Council; Ealing Councillors; Mayor of London was written by Carolyn Brown and is in the category Local Government at GoPetition.