Westminster Column

13th December 2016

As has been reported in the Observer, the latest threat from Labour controlled Birmingham City Council is to close our Town Library. The Royal Sutton Town Library has served us well for 80 years, and its wonderful staff have looked after both the library users and the archive of the Town’s history.

It is a matter of deep concern that the Council should wish to close it. A concern amplified by the fact that had the Conservative Councillors’ budget proposal been accepted there would have been no need to close our libraries.

These Labour proposals are being opposed throughout our Town and I would like to thank the 1500 local residents who have signed the petition against closure. It demonstrates the strength of feeling that people locally have for our library, and the determination to stop its closure.

Closing our library, just short of its 80th anniversary, would be a blow for the Royal Town. It is an important part of our community, and provides a function that no other institution could seek to replicate. We must also not allow the Council to move our library to a smaller building, which would risk losing some of the things that make our library so important – our reference material, internet access and an archive that records hundreds of years of our Royal Town’s history.

I will be speaking at the rally on Saturday morning that campaigners have organised to protest the closure plans.

The meeting place is 11.00 on the Parade which will then move to the United Reform Church.

Over recent years we have been reasserting our status as an independent community and an ancient Royal Town. After a long campaign we have reasserted our Royal Status. We now have our own Town Council – the biggest in Britain. After 42 years we have our Mayoralty reborn.

There are some in Birmingham who see us as “North Birmingham” and not an independent entity. They should remember that we are part of Birmingham ONLY for local government purposes and have our proud heritage and local organisations and statutory bodies, of which our Library is a key part.

There is legitimate disdain in Sutton Coldfield for the way Birmingham has often been seen to treat us over the last 42 years, and against which Sutton’s Conservative Councillors so frequently battle. I hope that the Council will think again and reflect that in the view of our local community this is quite simply a step too far.