Row over the future of Knighton library

Published in the Leicester Mercury on 9th February 2017

Labour councillors have been accused of scaremongering over the future of a city library.

Knighton library, in Clarendon Park Road, is one of 11 community buildings being reviewed by Leicester City Council as part of its cost-cutting Transforming Neighbourhood Services programme.

A recent newsletter – Save Our Local Library – published by the area's Labour councillors, Patrick Kitterick, Lynn Senior and Deborah Sangster, calls on people to take part in a consultation and voice their support for the facility.

However, Ross Grant, Conservative councillor for Knighton, has accused them of unsettling residents and has raised the matter with Labour mayor Sir Peter Soulsby.

Coun Grant said: "I have been contacted by a lot of people who are quite scared and there might be an element of scaremongering that has been undertaken because they have received information the library is under threat of closure in a leaflet from ward councillors."

He asked Sir Peter to put library users' minds at rest.

The mayor said: "I know of no proposals at all to close Knighton library. I have remarked that the very best political campaigns are those waged against things that you know are not going to happen.

"The great advantage of doing that is you can draft your victory leaflet with lots of time to spare. I think this is one such example."

The leaflet said in Tory-run Leicestershire "scores'' of libraries have closed or had their full-time staff taken out.

Leicester's Conservatives said the leaflet is misleading because 35 county libraries have been off-loaded to volunteers to run but just one – in Barwell – has closed.

Leicester Conservatives spokeswoman Mina Sharma said: "This is a prime example of Labour actively misleading the public. How can they be trusted to run public services when they are peddling lies to residents?

"Instead of continuing to blame Government cuts at every opportunity, it is about time Labour faced up to their own financial mismanagement and take responsibility for the savage cuts they are proposing to vital services."

Coun Kitterick said: "Councillor Grant is in denial about the effect Government cuts are having on our services including libraries.

"In the recent past we have seen fundamental changes to our libraries as a result of cuts. Aylestone library was moved into the leisure centre, Rushey Mead library is to close. That is not scaremongering.

"I make no apologies for urging people to take part in a consultation on the future of the library. I have been around long enough to have seen what can happen when very few people do take part in them and we end up with proposals that cause real concern."

Nearly 200 people have signed an online petition to save Leicester's libraries.