Beckenham Library was one of the first in Bromley Borough to re-open on Monday 6 July as the Covid-19 lockdown eased. Although borrowing a pre-pack of books or using the computer has to be pre-registered*, Conservative Councillors and supporters (pictured socially distancing) welcomed the news.
Fears that Beckenham was to lose its public library had been stoked up recently, with hundreds willingly signing a petition headlined “Save our Library”. However those that read the petition’s small print found campaigners only wanted to keep the tired old building and prevent much-needed housing.
Library closure is an understandable fear as nearby boroughs have ruthlessly shut many libraries in order to save money. In contrast, debt-free Bromley has always supported its Library Service and frequently moved, upgraded and refreshed libraries to keep them popular and relevant.
Conservative Councillor Michael Tickner said: “The library service in Beckenham was never under threat of closure. The issue is whether to invest in brand new shelving, displays and computers, and relocate it to the Public Halls in Beckenham Town Centre. It is one of the most popular libraries in Bromley Borough but the massive space it currently occupies and the difficulty many Beckenham residents have in reaching its present location mean that a fundamental review was overdue”.
That independent review, which has now been delivered and is being analysed by Council officers, has been completely objective. As the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Peter Morgan, stated on more than one occasion, Beckenham Library would only be moved if the new library could perform at least as well as the old and other community uses in the Public Halls could be retained. The issue will be discussed again at a Council committee in the autumn.
Wherever our library is eventually located, it will not be closed. Conservatives are encouraging everyone to make good use of it. Once lockdown restrictions are fully lifted, the library will be open for longer and well worth visiting.