Updated: Saturday, 15th August 2020 @ 6:31am

Trafford's children are performing well so why is the council cutting funding to libraries?

Trafford's children are performing well so why is the council cutting funding to libraries?

By Claire Holden

Trafford schools lead the way for school performance in the North West in 2011, with every key stage subject ranking first in tables, aside from Key Stage 1 Science, which ranked third.

But with such an impeccable record and an obvious academic interest and ability from students, why is Trafford Council cutting funding to the vast majority of libraries when an interest in books is growing?

In 2009-10 Bowfell Library lent out a meagre 1,877 books, but in 2011-12, that number had sky-rocketed to nearly 18,000 books being borrowed.

However, in those years spending has decreased by £3,000.

While other libraries in Trafford are not as extreme as Bowfell, many are experiencing a steep increase in demand for books.

Alongside Bowfell, Altrincham and Old Trafford have also experienced a surge in demand over the last year, but have had their funding cut.

With students expecting to pay nearly £30,000 for a standard university course, not including the debt racked up for living expenses, students are relying more and more on local libraries to assist in their studies.

With so many people struggling to keep their head above water in the bleak economic climate, libraries in Trafford have become a haven for those who cannot afford to fork out for books.

From university students who already are drowning in debt enforced on them by the government in order to achieve a full education, to the families who cannot afford to buy books for the little ones to practice their reading and ignite their imaginations.

Labour councillor Barry Botherton for Priory ward said: “The national cuts are stifling the economy; it’s getting worse for people who are disadvantaged and the people who rely on the libraries.

“The cuts will make life much more difficult for people who come from homes where parents cannot afford to buy new books, it’s really terrible.”

When Trafford have such an exemplary performance in education, include ranking 6th in the national table for Early Years Foundation level, is now the time for the council to be cutting the spending to libraries in Trafford?

Mother-of-one Natalie Collier, of Sale, often takes her son to the library.

She said: “I think the government cutting funding is outrageous its just not kids who use libraries it is all generations. Libraries are a place people can enter a different world.

“The cuts will be bad for society; in this day in age of PCs it is nice to see children delve into a book and not play computer games.”

 Libraries are essential for users of any age, but they are particularly important in a child’s education.

Libraries are an easy way for children to enjoy reading and are a good platform to start socialising and interacting with other children and adults.

Libraries also benefit children as they encourage ways of researching and finding things out.

Councillor Brotherton also noted that Trafford’s Conservative council have thought of swapping library staff for volunteers.

He said: “The difficulty is that the conservative party are thinking of using volunteers to run the libraries, but you just can’t train them like you can have staff.”

The Conservative council has clearly noticed that the plans are not necessarily for the best, and cutting costs does not mean a better service.

Conservative councillor for Hale Chris Candish said: “We have had consultations and now we have modified the programme to make sure that libraries are run by professionals and volunteers.

We have done this so that people are not put in a difficult position and can get the help they need when looking for a book.”

The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) said that is has grave concerns about the level and extent of proposed cuts to public library services across England.

The front-loading of savings to local government grants mean that radical proposals have been implemented quickly and often without proper preparation and consultation.

Brian Hall, President of CILIP said: “Public libraries are part of England’s national heritage, bequeathed to us by the Victorians and ours must not be the generation that destroys this heritage.

“We must all work to ensure that we develop an exciting and innovative public library service which not only serves the information and cultural needs of current people but is equipped to help future generations in their discovery and use of knowledge.”    

A report by The National Literacy Trust, based on a survey of more than 17,000 eight to 16-year-olds, revealed that almost two-thirds (64.5%) of those who use the library are reading above the expected level for their age. For non-library users, this figure is just 35.5%.

It seems that no one can agree that the spending cuts to library services would be a positive step, not even the party responsible for the proposals.

Now is not the time to be jeopardising Trafford’s gleaming reputation.