Without any public consultation, Medway Council’s Conservative Administration has decided to move the Library from its large Bryant Rd site to a rented retail unit at 133 High St, Strood.
The shop is currently used by the Strood Community Project: a charity that provides vital services for disadvantaged people of all ages. The loss of the shop is a threat to the continuing success of the local charity.
Like many local residents, Labour questions whether the Library should be moved at all.
The new smaller High St Library will be part of a new Strood Community Hub – a facility where residents can also access other Council services. There are advantages to a town centre site, better access to bus services for example, but that is balanced with the fact that residents will have to pay for parking their car. And where do they park on market days? The Conservative administration continues to refuse to allow any free town centre car parking – say for the 1st hour.
Despite requests from their own Government to change policy – they continue to milk the cash car park cow, charging up to 10pm at night, putting town centre business under pressure.
The closure of the current Library will see the loss of Strood’s popular & well-used community hall and the Library’s free car parking.
Labour is campaigning to ensure that facilities at the new Library will be the same as currently provided or better. The current plans for the new site shows no community hall – if no hall is provided, we believe the council should either 1) retain the existing hall or 2) invest money in the Strood’s Youth Centre sports hall as an alternative which is only a stone’s throw away from the current Library site.
And what will happen to the current Library site? Labour does not wish the site to be sold off and redeveloped for high density housing – this part of Strood is already overcrowded. We believe the existing site should be retained for a public service; maybe a new home for local health providers, for example a GP practice, a dental practice and pharmacy – and keeping our community hall.
Cllr Stephen Hubbard