Bramley Library

Photo: Keely Bannister

Readers’ Letter: More Bramley Library consultation support

3 August 2016

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Bramley resident Blanche Champion responds to several readers’ letters and comments on The Dispatch in the past week regarding a public consultation over the future of Bramley Library and plans to turn it into a community hub. Some were critical, others were supportive.

I was in Bramley Library the other day surrounded by a good humoured group of women having a ‘Knit and Chat’ session.

I immediately thought of a recent letter in your paper which referred to libraries needing an ambience which is conductive to studying, contemplating and stretching one’s intellect in peace’.

Bramley Library has a welcoming ‘ambience’ of liveliness, community activities and communications – despite its rather run-down and shabby appearance. Times have moved on since the whispers and imposed silence of a former age.

The comments about the recent open meeting about the proposed hub in Bramley Library with Rachel Reeves MP, Councillors Caroline Gruen and Kevin Ritchie were equally strange.

‘No frowns’

I felt absolutely free to express my opinions; I didn’t see anyone ‘put down’ with frowns or lack of interest.

I know that Rachel, Caroline, Kevin and Councillor Julie Heselwood care passionately about libraries in general and Bramley Library in particular. They all spent a considerable amount of time fighting the proposed cuts to our library’s opening hours.

Other public meetings have been held about the future of the Community Centre and it was clear that our councillors were faced with huge problems in satisfying the wishes of the community to keep loved buildings open and the need to deliver a number of services locally.

bramley library consultation

MP Rachel Reeves at the Bramley Library consultation

All when council budgets are being at least halved by the policy of austerity imposed by central government after the banking scandals of the last eight years.

I am delighted that Bramley Library will have much needed investment in its structure – this is clearly urgently needed if its condition is not to deteriorate further. I was sorry that there isn’t enough money to sort out the flooding in the basement and hope that the council will look at this possibility again.

I was also taken aback by your correspondent’s condescending and rather sneering words about senior citizens whom he refers to as ‘local OAP Labour members’.

Senior citizens are important library service users both for themselves and for their grandchildren. They ensure that love of reading & libraries are passed on down the generations. In fact the volunteers who worked to keep the library open on Thursdays were mainly senior citizens.

bramley library

Bramley Library. Copyright Stephen Craven and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Regarding library use for housing inquiries, it was made clear that a private office is available on request for clients and that there will still be enough space – and the same number of books and computers – for other library users.

I took the trouble to speak to a member of the library staff a few days ago about the use of the library as a community hub. He welcomed this development and made the point that some groups who wouldn’t dream of entering a library will now do so. They will be made welcome and helped to find the services they need.

Bramley parking problems

Parking is certainly a problem is this area, but this issue was not ‘brushed over’. An assurance was given that parking in the nearby liberal club would be explored and, having asked councillors about this, I understand that the outlook may be positive. Certainly those of us with gates and drives know that bad and illegal parking is not confined to this part of Bramley unfortunately.

Finally, as someone who has worked in the private, voluntary and public sector for many years I know how important is to feel appreciated. I deeply respect the hard work and dedication of Rachel, Caroline, Kevin and Julie to our community.

It’s very easy to criticise those who take public office and such criticism is part of a healthy democracy. But thanks and praise are equally part of our social contract with our representatives and I, together with all my family, would like to thank those who have worked so hard to satisfy the many demands of constituents; to preserve and add to Bramley’s heritage and to involve us continuously in lively and vigorous democratic processes.

Do you have a local issue you’d like to get off your chest? Drop an email to Readers’ Letters via news@westleedsdispatch.com and we’ll do our best to include it.




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