UPDATE 18/10/19 Cllr Francis has responded to say that she has authorised council officers to carry out the work.
Don’t usually respond in this way but I am happy to report that today I authorised officers to trigger essential work to be carried out @B31Voices & @Julie4Weoley We are doing everything possible to support community libraries – sorry it’s taken so long! https://t.co/sB3k0U2k0z
— Jayne Francis (@Harborne_Jayne) October 18, 2019
Staff and users at Weoley Castle Library are urging Birmingham City Council to act as they face a second winter with no central heating or hot water.
A prominent central hub for the local community, Weoley Castle Library sits on the corner of Weoley Castle Square and Beckbury Road.
‘Almost 2 years’ without heat
The boiler in the Library stopped working in early 2018.
According to a representative of the Friends of Weoley Castle Library, several requests for repair have since been submitted to Birmingham City Council. However, almost two years later staff and customers are facing a second winter of wearing coats and gloves in the Library.
The Friends said that the building has three floors and open areas, impossible to heat with portable heaters. Last winter the Library had to close on several days as it was far too cold and dangerous to the health of the staff.
The group says that the closing of the Library affects a lot of people, and they are concerned it may happen again this winter if the boiler is not fixed.
The Library hosts many activities and services including: Parent & Toddler groups, weekly children’s activities, computer access, social service facilities, weekly knitting and sewing group, monthly readers group, coffee mornings, Friends of Weoley Castle library events, free talks and access to community information.
However, people are not getting the full use out of their community resource as they are reluctant to use the cold building.
Cabinet member for Education, Skills & Culture Cllr Jayne Francis (Labour, Harborne) is aware of the issues and visited the library herself several months ago. However, no arrangements have yet been made for a repair.
Cllr Julie Johnson (Labour, Weoley & Selly Oak) said: “The heating issue at the library is something that I am aware of and have raised with the Cabinet member Jayne Francis who visited the library herself this summer.
“I continue to chase the issue on behalf of our residents who want to see the improvements made and the heating system replaced so the library is fully functional for all users and staff.”
The Friends group plans to gather a petition which Cllr Johnson has agreed to deliver to the council. This should be available to sign in the library soon.
A spokesman for the Friends group said: “The Friends of the Library do not want another winter of no heating and hot water. The community of Weoley Castle does not want that. Our local councillors don’t want that. So, Birmingham City Council, please fix the boiler.”
Birmingham City Council and Cllr Francis have been asked for comment.