Here are some of the subjects which two Hadleigh residents felt were neither addressed in the ECC Survey, nor adequately supported in the 2018/2019 ECC Library Strategy, one planned outcome of which would have resulted in the closure of both Benfleet and Hadleigh Libraries.
Maybe these elements will be helpful starting points in reviewing future strategies.
I wish to protest, emailed the first resident, about the planned closure of 3 out of 4 libraries in Castle Point. No attendance figures have been given, no consideration of the use made of Hadleigh Library in particular.
Our only option in your view is to go to Canvey over 5 miles away with a limited bus service.
At one time the library encouraged reading groups, children’s services and community involvement.
Now you are throwing all this away. A volunteer-run library will even lose access to the on-line catalogue.
With all the new development in housing in Castle Point since we moved here in the 70s, plus all the building going on throughout Essex, the take from Council Tax must have greatly increased yet you are reneging on responsibilities taken on in the 1950s and ’60s when there were many fewer people paying.
We knew you were inspecting libraries and were braced for a diminution of services but not for complete removal and no recognition of the part that the library plays in the community as a meeting place, free from political or commercial consideration and a valuable resource for various groups. It gives access to books for children; a place to study; a place to get information or extra council refuse sacks; where to take used batteries and small electrical items.
In your survey you waffle about ‘providing a service’ when the present strategy is obviously aimed at reducing the number of library users – possibly until you decide it’s not worth bothering at all except in special centres.
What happened to the legal requirement to provide adequate library cover?
End of the protest email from the first resident.
For a different viewpoint, here is a BBC report. David Walliams supports saving the Essex Library Service (31st May 2019) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-
And here are the thoughts of the second Hadleigh resident; regarding HADLEIGH LIBRARY PLANNING 27th Jan 2019.
Castle Point is the only Borough in Essex where it takes over 40 mins to travel from end to end by public transport. (From Hadleigh Church to Canvey Village is 43 mins PLUS waiting time).
Castle Point is one of the few Boroughs in England cut in half by the sea – Canvey is quite isolated from the mainland therefore Castle Point needs more than one Tier 1 library facility.
Benfleet and Thundersley Libraries were both penalised for being within 2 miles of each other — BOTH penalised! This is quite illogical.
Hadleigh has a higher proportion of older people than the rest of the Borough. The average age in the Borough is one of the highest in the County. This was not considered.
The Consultation Document is very poorly constructed – 6 questions requiring a single answer is misleading, confusing AND the resulting statistics rendered susceptible to different interpretations. This has caused many to abandon completion of the survey, in disgust and irritation.
The Tier 2 model is not sufficiently robust and is guaranteed to fail. [The only places this might work is in isolated rural communities with a cheap redundant building. Even there, it would not be financially sustainable without charitable funding.]
It is simplistic to say that “library usage has diminished over recent years”. In fact, usage has gone down in almost direct correlation to the reduction in the number of libraries nationally! Given that library investment has gone down year-on-year for decades it’s quite astonishing how much they are still valued!
ECC shouldn’t be culling libraries, they should be reinventing them and investing heavily in them. Instead they are sounding their death knell and reducing the book stock.
All banks except Lloyds have now closed in Hadleigh. Therefore, we must ALL come to terms with on-line banking. However, in Castle Point a significant percentage of people over the age of 65 do not have a computer at home. The computers at Hadleigh Library are therefore in high demand, as is the help of the library staff to use them.
Communities need places to meet and Libraries help support a healthy social fabric.
That completes the views in 2019 of just two of the Hadleigh residents, which might be used for reviewing future library strategies.