, 07 February 2017, Tags:
What a forward thinking act, for Waltham Forest Council to be the first borough to announce its divestment from fossil fuels this year. Its pension fund will no longer put its money in oil and gas - and this will lead to a more carbon-free future. I felt proud to be part of the campaign, and the celebrations this week.
Why then not the same forward thinking for our libraries? Our buildings are our heritage, and as such hold both community and monetary value. Why take them out of our hands and replace with something with no heritage or value?
Our communities need a solid base. Our experience tells us that temporary buildings, changing addresses, relocations - do not keep a public building in use. This has already happened with the community centre nearest to Higham Hill Library, which is my local library and the campaign I've had most to do with.
And what a wonderful campaign. Such a positive, joined-up, creative show of solidarity with our shared space and the need for it. This area has so few spaces for the community to get together, hold events, hang out together and the campaign showed we are a bunch of people worth getting together! Thank you to everyone who worked so hard locally.
Our future is not in short-term building. In sparkly new projects that conflate parking permits with a free, public space to read and learn. Sparkly new buildings are not a sustained community engagement programme getting all ages and backgrounds into the library. And when we realise this, we can never get back the publicly-owned land and buildings that we've sold.
Maintain the libraries. Get clever with income generation - co-working spaces and hubs, room rental - and encourage all ages in. And keep encouraging. We need encouragement - we're working two jobs, we're looking after relations, we're fighting off all the other demands on us to consume - encourage us. It will reap long term rewards.
Chapel End resident, on behalf of the Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party.