Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson meets with church leaders

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson meets with Aintree Village’s church leaders  and Aintree Village and Melling parish councillors to discuss ways to save the library.

 

Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson met with church leaders and members of Aintree and Melling Parish Council to talk about the threat to Aintree Library from Tory-Lib Dem government cuts and to discuss how the library might be saved.

The parish councils told Bill about the massive support for the library in the two villages and confirmed that they want the library to remain open. 

At the same time the group discussed ways of keeping the library open.

Bill said: “I asked to meet the churches and the parish councillors so that we could talk about the library and see what could be done to keep the library open. 

"Cllr Terry Baldwin, Aintree Parish Council chairman made it quite clear to me that the community in Aintree wants the library to be kept open. This was backed up Cllr Gerry Lee, the vice chair of Melling. 

"It is clear to me that the two parish councils have gained overwhelming support for their campaigns to keep the library open. I am sure that Sefton Council understands this and I will repeat the message. 

"I will also continue to raise this with ministers and repeat the point that libraries can only stay open if the government gives councils the money they need. 

"The cuts to the budget in councils across the country mean that councils will only be able to collect the rubbish and run social services with the money that the government is giving them. Unless something changes, Sefton and other councils will not have the money to run councils. That is why it is so important for me to try to change the minds of government ministers.”

The church leaders from Aintree agreed with the parish councillors at the meeting that the library is the centre of the community. 

Another point was made that people in Aintree and Melling need the computers at the library not least because all applications or questions about benefits will need to made online from April. Many people don’t have computers and many older people don’t know how to use a computer.

Bill said: “It was clear to me that the church leaders and the parish councillors all understood just how important the library is in Aintree. 

"The loss of computers alone will have a profound and damaging effect on some of our most vulnerable people. So every effort must be made to find a way to save the library.”

The group agreed that it was important that Sefton should do everything it could to support the library. However, they also discussed how the library might be kept open if Sefton could not carry on with arrangements as they are at the moment.

Bill said: “We had a very productive conversation and agreed that churches and parish councils would work together to try to find ways of keeping the library going if Sefton couldn’t get any more money from the government for its libraries. 

"The reality is that somewhere the money has to be found to invest in the library in Aintree for the long term and also to make sure that its running costs, including staff salaries, can be paid for. Ideally this would be the council but the meeting with the churches and parish councils was designed to start a conversation. 

"If anyone else in Aintree or Melling has ideas on how to keep the library open those ideas would be very welcome. 

"What the government has done by cutting the budget is a disgrace. Now it is up to the community in Aintree and Melling to find a way of saving the library. This will not be easy, but I believe that there is a lot of expertise in the community here that can be used to keep the library. 

"I will be asking Sefton to do what they can to save the library but if that is not possible, there needs to be a back up plan and that was what today’s meeting was all about.”

 

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