Belfast Telegraph

No case for closing library, says Dodds

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has said he does not accept there is a “convincing case” for closing Cloughfern Library under current proposals.

A consultation document produced by Libraries NI names Cloughfern as one of fourteen libraries in the Greater Belfast area which are deemed not viable for the future.

“This matter has been raised with me by a number of residents during visitation in the Cloughfern area,” said Mr Dodds.

“It is clear that Cloughfern Library has many positive factors and I do not accept that there is a convincing case for closure — on the contrary I would argue strongly that it should be retained and enhanced as a key feature of the local community.

“The library is well-located in the middle of a large residential area, beside local shops and King’s Park Primary School. Whilst small, the library is well used and is greatly valued by local residents. It has modern premises and has the lowest maintenance backlog of all the libraries under threat of closure.

“Furthermore, with 931 active borrowers it has one of the highest memberships, it has the lowest cost per-issue and one of the highest figures for computer usage.”

Mr Dodds said that while the consultation document states Cloughfern Library is below the minimum size desirable, he would argue Libraries NI “would be delighted if other libraries could match the usage levels of Cloughfern, and if size is the problem then there is ample spare land beside it for expansion”.

He added: “It is misleading to suggest, as the report does, that Cloughfern Library is within close proximity of Rathcoole library. This would represent a considerable journey, particularly for children, as would Glengormley. All in all I think there is a strong case for the retention of Cloughfern Library.

“I have voiced my concerns about the proposal in respect of Cloughfern Library to Libraries NI. I have made it clear that I am totally opposed to the closure of the library. The chief executive has informed me that the factors that I have highlighted will be included as part of the feedback to the board of Libraries NI for consideration of part of the decision-making process.”

Copies of the public consultation questionnaire are available at local libraries or from the Libraries NI website, www.librariesni.org.uk, and must be returned to Libraries NI by the deadline of April 5.

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