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King’s Lynn library will lose at least some of its services

In our weekly Friday Politics column, Labour’s Charles Joyce discusses the Carnegie library.

Labour councillors always support external bids to bring in extra money from outside West Norfolk to help fund council services. But we can’t always agree with how and where the council spends the money.

One example is the Lynn Town Deal. There are some elements of the project that have been very successful and if the money is available will be expanded across West Norfolk. Others, such as spending over £12million of real money (the Town Board secured £5million of that from Norfolk County Council) on the former Argos building was not high on my list.

Lynn library
Lynn library

The argument was lost, the ship has sailed, and the multi-user community hub is likely to take the local lending library as part of its service provision. The decision now is to either give the ship a fair wind or torpedo and sink the vessel carrying hopes of a better future.

To anyone with a modicum of reason and common sense that is not even a choice. The fallout is that the library funded by Andrew Carnegie and donated to the people of Lynn in 1905 and subsequently transferred to Norfolk County Council at the re-organisation of local government in the 1970s will lose at least some of its services.

There have been libraries in Lynn dating back to the 17th century. None were free to use until Carnegie. As one door closes often another opens. Repurposing of the Carnegie library opens up new opportunities. A number of suggestions have come forward varying from an adult or reference library to a possible personal special events venue.

Charles Joyce
Charles Joyce

The final decision should be made as close as possible to the original guardians of the library which with the ending of the old Lynn Borough Council in the early 1970s is today West Norfolk Council. To make that happen requires the cooperation of Norfolk County Council.

West Norfolk Council Taxpayers send more money to the county council coffers than any other district. The return of the library to the more local council will help dispel the widely held view that the highwayman Thomas Easter – Norfolk’s very own Dick Turpin – must ride the A47 when County Hall sends money to the West of the county.

Rather than outright warfare, friendly persuasion has a better chance of convincing the county council to return the library. To achieve this, bridges need to be built, not burnt. Labour has shown we will play our part when there is a common cause. Opposing the closure of the railway station ticket offices is a recent instance. New Labour councillor Steve Everett’s motion was in support of the County Council’s stance of speaking out against ticket office closures across Norfolk.

Passed with support across the political divide, the Borough Council leader was empowered to write to the Government expressing opposition to the proposal to leave railway stations without staff, because as Steve explained if the ticket office closes there are no other regulations requiring railway stations to be staffed.

A Conservative-controlled county council not only sharing common ground with Labour but with the RMT union against a Tory Government policy. Truly fact is stranger than fiction.

Next week another motion will be presented to the Borough Council along similar lines expressing support for coastal communities. If the motion is agreed the Borough Council leadership with the backing of the Borough Council will be able to lead a local campaign at the same time as joining the county council strongly urging the Government and all local MPs for funding to be provided to the Environment Agency to give a future to local businesses and thousands of families protected from the incoming sea.

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