#Local Government
Ealing Council
United Kingdom

Ealing Council is currently undertaking a Public Consultation about their Library Services provision with the objective of making cuts to the service to save money.

Hanwell Library – the building:
Hanwell Library is clearly targeted as one of the libraries at risk of closure, along with the Mobile Library Service which makes fortnightly stops at three locations in North Hanwell (Hanwell Community Centre, Bordars Road and High Lane) as part of its Borough-wide schedule.

Hanwell Library has been seriously, and comparatively, under-funded in terms of maintenance of the building, staffing and service provided, by successive Councils over many years. Due to this lack of council funding, the poor state of the building is being cited as one of the reasons why this much valued community service should be shut down.

Poor maintenance has led to the upper floor being closed to the public on health and safety grounds for some years (leaky roof and pigeon problems) which is a waste of a community space which could usefully be used for a computer room, quiet study room, meeting room etc and to house more book sections at very little cost.

The Council has estimated that it would take £1.1M to refurbish Hanwell Library. In light of the current pressures on budget, we would challenge the need for this level of expenditure at this time. Hanwell Library could be brightened up and the full space brought back into use under the Library Service for a fraction of this amount, thus retaining Hanwell Library as a valuable service for future generations in Hanwell’s communities.

Whilst these cuts are being proposed, it must be observed that Ealing Council has plans to spend money on road projects in Hanwell and elsewhere in the Borough that appear to be doing little more than tidying up and might be regarded as a waste of money in these straitened times. For example, moving of the kerb on the Boston Manor Road opposite the junction with Haslemere Road (The Harvester).

Hanwell Community Forum Library Action strongly believes that in this economic climate and against the background of global warming and the strategic need to encourage sustainable communities, it is not appropriate to prioritise building a car park over retaining Hanwell Library and the Mobile Library Service to North Hanwell. Once gone this valued library service would never be replaced in our Community.

The need for Hanwell’s local library, accessible on foot: optimising literacy among Hanwell’s young people:

The UK Literacy rate among children leaving primary school must be improved:

• around 20%, or one in five children do not reach the required standard of reading and writing at 11 yrs old (Key Stage 2) [DoE statistics 2010]

• approximately one third of children receiving free school meals do not reach standards in literacy at 11yrs old (Key Stage 2) [DoE statistics 2010 quoted by Schools Minister Nick Gibb November 2010]

• almost 20%, or one in five seven-year-olds in England did not reach government targets for literacy in 2010 [DoE statistics for Key Stage 1 2010]

• around one third families of younger children do not have access to Internet [Point Topic Survey1]

Easy 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.

Hanwell Library is within easy walking distance of five Primary Schools (Brentside PS; Hobbayne Primary School; Oaklands Primary School; St Joseph’s RC Primary School; St Marks Primary School), four Preschool Nurseries (Hanwell Bunnies Preschool Play Group; Bunny Park Day Nursery; Sticky Fingers Day Nursery; Buttons Day Nursery ); and three High Schools (Brentside High School; Drayton Manor High School and Elthorne Park High School).

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.

Such close proximity to so many schools is not the case for other libraries in the Borough and is an additional factor to value for Hanwell Library.

Hanwell Library provides free internet access for high school students, who might otherwise have to share computers with siblings or not have access to broadband at home at all, to research for school work, and for social networking with their peers.

Hanwell Library also provides quiet workstations for students who do not have such a facility in their home environment.

It is essential that children and young people of all socio economic backgrounds and demographics are given easy access to books via public libraries in order to nurture familiarity and enjoyment of the written word as early as possible to improve literacy rates; this is not done by closing Hanwell Library, their closest library within easy walking distance.

Adult literacy:
One in six people in the UK struggle with literacy2. This means their literacy is below the level expected of an eleven year old.

Men and women with poor literacy are least likely to be in full-time employment at the age of thirty3.

92% of the British public say literacy is vital to the economy, and essential for getting a good job4.

We believe that it is essential that Hanwell Library continues to provide to its local community with easy access, on foot, to books and the internet and other library-based services, in order to try to ensure that our children 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 economies in general.

Access to computers and the internet
Hanwell Library offers valued local access to the internet for members of the community from all age groups, socioeconomic and demographic backgrounds.

Easy access to computers, free of charge, without having to use public transport to get to them, is especially important to the active elderly, who may not be able to afford a computer at home, or to pay broadband charges, on comparatively low incomes. It is inappropriate and unacceptable of the Council to be disenfranchising this sector of our community.

Hanwell Community Forum Library Action strongly believes that, if anything, this facility should be increased not closed down.

Ref 1: http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2010/04/28/more-than-1-in-3-uk-families-with-children-live-without-broadband.html

Ref 2: DfES (2003) Skills for Life

Ref 3: Dugdale George and Clark Christina (2008) Literacy changes live: An advocacy resource. London: National Literacy Trust, p17

Ref 4: National Literacy Trust (2009) Manifesto for Literacy

We, the undersigned, call on Ealing Council to listen to the community and abandon its plans, in preparation, to close 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 and sell the building.

We also call upon Ealing Council to save the Mobile Library Service as this also serves three locations in North Hanwell.

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The Save Hanwell Library petition to Ealing Council was written by Carolyn Brown and is in the category Local Government at GoPetition.