Stockroom 4, P.Stockport Council
The project would be paid for using Future High Streets Fund cash. Credit: via Stockport Council

Stockport library plan hits snag amid political wrangling  

Dan Whelan

Following a tense meeting last night, a decision on whether to go ahead with the relocation of the town’s library services will be made by full council next week after a handful of opposition councillors intervened.

Under plans signed off by Stockport Council’s Labour-run cabinet in December, the town’s library services would be moved from Central Library on Wellington Road to the proposed £14.5m Stockroom development at Merseyway. 

The project, to be paid for with Future High Streets Fund cash, has proved controversial with some residents and Liberal Democrat and Conservative councillors.

An online consultation found that more than half of the people who took part were opposed to the idea of moving the library. 

Subsequently, three Liberal Democrat councillors and three Conservative councillors requested the decision to rubber-stamp the Stockroom scheme be called in for further scrutiny.  

The councillors that signed the call-in were: 

  • Cllr Lou Ankers – Lib Dem 
  • Cllr Iain Roberts – Lib Dem 
  • Cllr Lisa Smart – Lib Dem 
  • Cllr John McGahan – Conservative 
  • Cllr Linda Holt – Conservative 
  • Cllr Oliver Johnstone – Conservative
Stockport Central Library

The future of Stockport Central Library is uncertain. Credit: Place North West

While claiming they are in favour of much of the Stockroom proposal, the councillors argue that the library should not be relocated and that the cabinet has failed to demonstrate that the award of FHSF cash is “contingent to the relocation of the library”. 

Last night, Stockport’s corporate, resource management and governance scrutiny committee voted in favour of referring the decision to full council on 13 January.

At that meeting, all 63 Stockport councillors will vote on whether to refer the decision back to cabinet for further consideration or allow the scheme to progress as approved. 

Stockport’s cabinet claims that footfall at the Central Library is declining and that the building is not fit for purpose. 

The future of the Central Library is unclear but the council insists it will find a community use for the much-loved building and has sought to reassure residents it will not be sold or demolished. 

The cabinet argues there has been “no compelling argument made to keep the service in the existing building when balanced against the opportunity to provide a new community facility on the scale of Stockroom”. 

Your Comments

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Good, absolutely no need for libraries nowadays

By Cal

Finally I think The Councilors have realised what the Borough have told Them. The message is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’.
Remember, The Constitutents pay Your wages. Not the other way round. So don’t patronise, listen to what Your Constituents are telling You, not what suits You.
Think of the money that will be saved if the units in The Precinct can be used for Retailing or a Job Centre & Training Hub.

By Miss Y Taylor

Constituents don’t pay councillors’ wages: i) councillors don’t get wages, they get allowances; ii) constituents don’t pay those allowances, the council does.

Councillors are our representatives, not our boot boys. It is just as important to listen to them as it is for them to listen to us. If you think you can do better for what they get paid in allowances, go for it; get elected.

Using the precinct for retailing alone… hmmm… how’s that been working?
IANAC

By Mr E Shopper

I’d be interested to know how many people actually use the library, I can’t remember the last time I used one.

By Anonymous

I’m assuming Mr E Shopper doesn’t understand the concept of Council Tax. This is the revenue stream for the Council to provide services and, of course, is the revenue stream that pays the not too shabby allowances that local Councillors claim.

By David Moores

The library should in my opinion be moved to the centre of Stockport. People need to move with the times and the relocation will mean the library well more accessible for all which the current library isn’t. I have seen the one in Chester and if the one in Stockport is anything like it will be a great success. Most of the people who are against probably haven’t been to the library in years. There is no reason why the old building cannot have a change of use.

By J Kelly

If and when Library relocated , wonderful building will be lost forever.. Politics littered with broken promises.

By Andre

And where does the money the council pay for the councillors’ allowances come from, if not the constituents ultimately. A library in the centre of town would be more accessible to all Stockport residents. But it is essential that the original iconic building remains and is used for some purpose.

By A book reader

If the argument is that the Central Library is not in a convenient place as it is not in the very centre of town and therefore people have difficulty accessing it then the same is true of the Town Hall, Coroners Court,Magistrates Court,War Memorial Art Gallery and other civic buildings and it follows they should be moved too.The people of Stockport have lost trust in the councillors and do not believe the Central Library will be looked after properly if it ceases to be a library.

By Sandy Reddish

This building belongs to the people of Stockport not the council.

By Sydney Porter

The library should stay where it is. Moving it is a complete waste of money because no one will be coming in to the town once the Congestion Charge starts in May. The Councillors should listen to residents views. They were elected to serve the people, not dictate.

By Julie James

They should just level the whole of Merseyway and open up the river to leisure and smaller retailers including a new library. The whole shopping precinct concept is dead given modern shopping habits.

By Paul local

The issue is that it is ‘broken’. Just look at the decline in usage of the central library. Be a real shame if Stockport misses this chance to do something transformational for young people and the viability of city centre businesses

By Craig Renwick

It would be helpful to hear a bit more about why the Council want to do this and what a successful outcome would look like

By Pete

The library should stay were it is .its a wonderful building and as such be kept as it was built for

By Reg Earp

Leave Central Library where it is & continue to use it for its original purpose – a quiet place of repose.
The Stockroom can then be as busy & noisy as is, apparently, required today

By Frances Card

The Library service will be better improved and accessed if moved to a Merseyway by a wider group of users , especially younger people and those that are currently under using the present building. Among the consulted responses from young people, disabled groups , as well as the actual professional Liberians , all were in favour of the move to the Stockroom. The temporary library hub in Mersey Sq has shown the potential for a newer improved Library venue direct in the heart of the Town Centre accessible to ALL who will be living close by in the next decade. The High St Fund bid has been won on the basis of a alternate regeneration plan . The Stockroom proposal is well thought out plan with a lot to offer and should not become a political football. Those Cllr’s ‘calling in ‘ the cabinet decision will need to explain how two town libraries are going to be paid for ?

By Wilson

I’m not strictly opposed to the idea of it moving however if they are going to move I would like to see what the long term plans are for the building. It would be a shame to move the library services and then the building is left vacant like quite a few in the area along the A6.

By Aevis

Well Cal obviously you don’t like books
I suggest that the money should be used to update the precinct with shops that people would like to buy from this may encourage footfall from out of the area
Stockport once was the hub of the community with great variety of shops and a market any district would have been proud of not now expensive car parking and no decent shops

By S L T

David Moores: I’m assuming you don’t understand that Council Tax is only one small revenue stream for the council, the other two are Business Rates and Government Grant so to say allowances – which are quite shabby actually, less that the minimum Income Tax threshold – come from the Council Tax stream isn’t accurate, it’s an unknown.

Andrea: How have promises been broken? The council have been open and transparent about their ambitions to establish Stock Room.

Sandy Reddish: The Town Hall + Art Gallery don’t provide a host of public services that need to be accessed on a regular basis and they don’t have the same declining levels of footfall as Central Library. Courts aren’t in the councils control plus they aren’t needed anywhere near as much for public services as libraries are/can be. How can you speak for the ‘people of Stockport’? You don’t know everyone’s opinion. The Cllrs work hard for little reward to make our communities a better place.

Sydney Porter: Central Library is legally owned by Stockport Council.

Julie James: There is no Congestion Charge, that’s just scaremongering. The Clean Air Zone doesn’t effect private cars/motorbikes/mopeds. We live in a representative democracy, not a delegate structure. We elect Cllrs in our behalf to make decisions based on as many of the facts as possible. They hide to represent all views by using their judgment. They can’t let the group that shouts the loudest dominate.

By Anonymous