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From: The Socialist issue 799, 19 February 2014: Floods Chaos: End cuts now!

Search site for keywords: Medway - Library - Council - Socialist - Kent - Chatham

Medway council will "rue the day" they attacked our library

Sue Berry

Over 60 people attended a public meeting in Strood, one of the Medway towns in Kent, on 15 February to discuss the next moves in a grassroots campaign to save the local library.

Medway council has ignored a 5,000-name petition and brushed aside large protests outside two council meetings.

Faced with this intransigence, local campaigners, with Socialist Party members involved, have pledged to step up their public profile through protests, pickets and a demonstration through the towns.

Addressing the packed meeting, Marion Shoard, writer and lecturer, said: "We have a superb library. Losing the library and Strood Community Project is a double act of vandalism.

"The council have misled us and are just not listening." She urged residents to make their voices heard.

Kim West, manager of the Strood Community Project, which has now been evicted from the High Street to make way for a downsized and relocated 'community hub', said: "This decision has been rushed through with no public consultation.

An outstanding charity shop with a footfall of over 300 people a day, providing support for vulnerable people, has been brushed aside, in favour of the policy to develop community hubs. This amounts to cuts in frontline services."

A steering committee was set up to coordinate future action. 30 protesters picketed the council on 17 February and a lobby is planned of the council's budget setting meeting on 20 February at 6.30pm at the St George's Centre, Chatham.

Medway Council will rue the day they decided to ignore 5,000 local residents. Public libraries were created as centres of recreation and learning, not as secondary outlets for downgraded and overstretched council services.

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