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Battle of words over the future of libraries

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Helen Jones thumb 2012

MP Helen Jones

A BATTLE of words between Warrington North MP Helen Jones and leisure provider LiveWire rumbled on today – with both sides firing broadsides.
The MP accused LiveWire of operating “back to front” over proposals to close Padgate Library.
She could not believe, she said, that LiveWire should only now announce their intention to work closely with University Academy Warrington – which is next door to the library – after they had held a consultation on closing the library.
“Why on earth didn’t they explore ways of encouraging more people to
use the library before they started to think about a closure?” she asked.
“I welcome any steps to increase library use but, as usual, LiveWire is operating back to front. Instead of talking about library closures they should have been looking at ways to increase usage and to locate other services within libraries right at the start.”
But a spokesperson for LiveWire responded: “We have made several attempts to work with University Academy Warrington in the past.
“Unfortunately these requests have been declined. Fortunately, the consultation on the future of Padgate Library has encouraged the school to engage with us and recent conversations have been positive in regards to working more closely together in the future.”
Ms Jones said she understood LiveWire had paid a consultant to advise them on the library consultation.
“They should ask for their money back considering the mess they have got into.
“This illustrates once again the real problem with LiveWire which is that no one on their board seems to have any experience of libraries. When it comes to running libraries, LiveWire is not fit for purposes. “
But LiveWire again hit back
The spokesperson, added: “In regards to the expertise of the board, since the board’s inception in 2012, two board members have been recruited who have a library background or the relevant skills and experience in this area.
“They have since left the board of their own accord and every effort has been made to replace them with individuals who have a similar skill set. Further attempts will be made in the near future to recruit a new board member who has experience in librarianship.
“In regards to the organisation’s wider skill set, a member of the senior management team, who plays a pivotal role in LiveWire’s decision making process, is a qualified librarian with more than 17 years’ experience working in the borough’s libraries.”
LiveWire has repeatedly stressed that no decisions have yet been made on the future of any of the libraries.

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  1. Given the two board members recruited “with a library background or relevant skills and experience in this area” have left of their own accord, all in the extremely short operational period of Live Wire’s existence, perhaps the board of Live Wire should consider the likely causes of their quick exits? Could it be they did not agree with LW’s less than satisfactory library closure policy?

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