In what seems to have been a very rushed process, the council’s Executive voted tonight for Stretford Library to vacate its home for the past 80 years to allow Trafford Music Service to take over the building. It’s just over a week since the report was first published to almost no fanfare.
Whilst the speed of the decision has taken the breath away, it has to be acknowledged that there has been a lot of public support expressed into a succession of Stretford Town Centre consultations for the library to form part of the eventual town centre revival. I think a lot of us saw the transfer as being into a bespoke hub, rather than a unit in the mall. However, importantly, and I think this accounts for much of the haste, the addition of the Music Service to the town centre has to be welcomed.
It’s the space allocated in the Mall that is most troubling. The units 37-38 that used to house Bonmarché just don’t provide sufficient space to provide the popular internet service, book shelves and children’s play area that make up a modern library, not to mention the Access Trafford service that’s so important in these difficult times. I raised this at the Executive meeting. I think the choice of Bonmarché has been simplified as the old Tesco’s units are too big, therefore it has to be a Bonmarché sized unit and that seems to have become the settled position.
My problem with this choice is that being in the Mall is likely to improve footfall – a good thing, but the computers will (hopefully) be more popular than the unit can cope with, and the library as a place to read will be overwhelmed. I argued that it may be necessary to separate functions over more than shop unit.
I’m certainly not won over by the argument that this is a temporary solution. The current time-frame is 2-5 years and I don’t believe children should lose out on Rhyme Time (edit I’ve been assured that Rhyme time will continue) and that vital nurtured skill of choosing books. We’re going to need more space. I hope the Executive were listening to me. We’ll see.
Further edit: Response from the Executive Member, Liz Patel
Can’t pretend I’m happy to leave this at this point but not likely to get any further in my remaining 6 weeks as councillor.