New Councillor breaks party ranks over ‘unlawful’ library consultation proposal

ots-ainsdale library hartill jones outhport ots onthespot ots

New Ainsdale councillor Ted Hartill has broken his public silence on the controversial libraries issue and made it clear he has views which are very different to those of his Conservative colleague Terry Jones. Whereas Councillor Jones voted that he was ‘not concerned’ at the manner in which Sefton Council’s library closure proposal had been created, Councillor Harthill in a public letter, declares clearly that he thinks that the proposal was and is unlawful and demands a consultation on a proposal not involving the closure of Ainsdale Library.

Councillor Hartill sat through the heated Scrutiny Committee where the Lib Dems tried to get the Cabinet to think again, claiming that the proposal going out to consultation had been prepared in a flawed manner.  He did not speak even though the chair of the committee invite non-committee members to speak if they wanted to. He listened in silence to Terry Jones and watched Cllr Jones vote with Labour to press forward with their closure plans.

Councillor Jones rejected the position, argued by Councillors Brodie Browne, Robertson and Dawson, that the consultation was flawed and needed to be sent back to the drawing board.  You cannot get more ‘flawed’ than being ‘unlawful’. It is hard to see how Councillor Hartill would have voted to allow the Council’s closure proposals for the 3 Southport libraries to go forward as his ward colleague chose to do.

 Cllr Ted Hartill  There has been much passionate debate regarding the possible future closure of Ainsdale Library. Whilst I fully support the petition that has been raised, I believe we need to deal in facts to win the day.

I believe we need to present the following facts to the Council before any further review. The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 requires every Library Authority provides a comprehensive and efficient library service. Ainsdale library provides a service for the whole of south Southport.
If closed, zero per cent of its population would be within three miles of a library and much of Ainsdale’s population is elderly.
Ainsdale library has one of the lowest maintenance costs in Sefton.

The five year trend for library use is down by as much as 20 per cent….Ainsdale’s is up by 4.6 per cent. Ainsdale Library has one of the lowest book issue costs and the lowest cost per user. The above information is from the council’s own study and should surely be a relevant factor.
A high percentage of library users are elderly and/or socially-isolated. if Ainsdale Library closes the nearest library will be at Southport, and at Formby.
Ainsdale library is very much a social hub for many and the activities it provides for all age groups is extensive. Local schools are also very much part of the activities within the school itself.

I was previously the Community Police Officer for Ainsdale so am fully aware of the importance of the library to village life.
To close Ainsdale Library will clearly breach the Libraries Act in that we will no longer provide a comprehensive and efficient service. With this in mind I have written to the leadership of Sefton Council and the Cabinet member responsible for libraries and requested that Ainsdale be withdrawn from those being considered for closure.[/quote]

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