Following a well supported public campaign, a Northfield councillor has today confirmed that, despite having previously considered the option of relocating services, a new library will be built on the current site of  West Heath Library.

West Heath Library, in The Fordrough, is currently closed due to its state of disrepair. Ring fenced funds for building a new library on site are already in place but councillors and council officers had considered not rebuilding as they feared they would not be able to finance its operation.

Northfield District is facing a 35-40% cut in its budget for 2014-16 and alternatives to the rebuild were considered, including having a reduced library service available elsewhere in West Heath.

However, local residents, many of who rely on having access to a library in its current location, were determined that their library should stay and made their views clear at consultation meetings across the district.

After a public rally attended by around 100 people in April, Cllr Brett O’Reilly (Lab, Northfield) said: “Having grown up on Fairfax Road, in a single parent family, I understand entirely why a library is needed for the West Heath community, and there has never been any intention from the Labour administration in Northfield District to remove that provision. It was good to also have the opportunity to dispel the mistruths that are being spread, and confirm that the money allocated to the Northfield District for West Heath Library is still available.”

However, at the time, Cllr O’Reilly could not confirm if a new library would be built, only that options were being considered for providing some form of library service in West Heath.

And today, as 40 people gathered for a further rally and demonstration on the streets of West Heath called by Communities Against the Cuts, Cllr O’Reilly announced that the decision had been taken to go ahead with the building of a new library at the current site. He addressed campaigners, saying: “It’s deeply regrettable that the library stands there closed today and that a new one wasn’t built sooner […].

And to applause from those gathered, he announced that: “The good news is, after months and months of hard work, there is going to be a new library built on the current site”.

Subsequent speakers at the rally advised caution and said that the community must be consulted on the new build and future provision on the site. [Watch video]

4 COMMENTS

  1. Deeply regrettable is not good enough. If it was not for the strength of public feeling being shown there would be nothing from the council. Why is it only now that there is going to be a new library built..public outrage at the council, an election looming or the work of Communities against the cuts to get something done….it all seems like its nothing to do with the council’s real wish. Turning up all of a sudden does nothing to placate the anger towards the council.

  2. Have libraries had there day? With the dreadful cuts the Tories are doing to Birmingham choices have to be made. I just hope this doesn’t mean we are going to loose other services. It’s dreadful that Conservatives are making Birmingham residents suffer. Three months ago Carole Griffiths explained too myself that there will be a new build. Well done to Cllr Oreilly for always keeping the local community at the focal point and standing up for us.

  3. Well done Councillor Brett Oreilly and thank you for having the balls to come out and support the people of west heath who the tories forget that we live here.

    As for communities against the cuts who are they and what ars they.
    The people of West Heath saved the library why because we care and live hear we dont need some low key political few to tell us what thet want us to do in our area.

    Well done Brett i can see that you have West Heath at heart and can see now that you are honest councilor and will always have my vote.

    Keep up the good work and dont lose that honesty.
    I just wish that guy in number 10 would be honest and give this great city of ours the money it needs to put it right.

    As for Labour making the wrong choices look at the facts below.

    OVER ONE MILLION CHILDREN LIFTED OUT OF POVERTY.

    FIRST EVER NATIONAL MINIMUM WAGE.

    PATERNITY LEAVE.

    CREATED SURE START

    FREE LOCAL TRAVEL FOR OVER 60s

    THE RIGHT TO 24 DAYS PAID HOLIDAY FOR ALL FULLTIME WORKERS.

    THE CREATION OF THE NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE.

    can you see the wrong choices here as all i can see is life changing choices.

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