Every time the subject of Blackfen Library (other libraries are available;
for now at least) crops up at Bexley council meetings, a cabinet member, not always the
same one, will say that unless a community group comes forward to run a
condemned library, then it will close.
Blackfen has been the library provoking the biggest protests, in part because it is busier than neighbouring Welling library which is not scheduled for closure.
Blackfen is a long way from Belvedere and I do not receive a great deal of information from that area but I did get wind of a Community Association founded, I think, on the back of the proposed library closure. I had to be elsewhere, so I sent a locally resident spy. Her report follows…
The venue for the meeting was the Jolly Fenman and it was convened by the recently formed Blackfen Community Group.
The motivation was Bexley council’s plan to close Blackfen Library. Councillors representing the three wards which divide Blackfen had been invited and the Blackfen & Lamorbey three, Peter Craske, Brian Beckwith and Lyn Smith were there plus Louie French (Falconwood and Welling).
The library is located in Blendon & Penhill Ward but no councillors from that ward attended. (Graham D’Amiral, Steven Hall and Nick O’Hare.)
As a local resident I might say that Blendon councillors have never shown any interest over many years.
Also in attendance was UKIP councillor Colin McGannon who came all the way from Colyers but who I believe may have been a Blackfen resident at one time.
About 60 residents and traders attended, most of whom, if not all, were intent on expressing their anger to councillors at the decision to close Blackfen Library despite the fact that it is very well used - and the rejection of their 2,000 plus signature petition.
The councillors, principally Peter Craske, responded by trying to convince the audience - unsuccessfully - that the council had little or no alternative and that the library could remain open with council support if association members present were prepared to form a group of volunteers prepared to run the library and submit a bid to the council by 20th March.
In answer to questions it was stated that if no bid from a ‘Community Group’ was forthcoming Blackfen library would be closed.
Blackfen Community Group has only recently been formed and has not yet fully established itself with a constitution etc. It was not formed for the sole purpose of running the library but as a voice on all general matters affecting the Blackfen community.
At present its members do not consider it has the structure, experience or ability to undertake the running of Blackfen Library. Nobody present was able to suggest any other local group who might be willing and possess the resources to submit a bid to take on the task.
So it looks like the library is doomed. It doesn’t not surprise me that the reputation of councillors D’Amiral and O’Hare in the area is none too good. They are among the, possibly a majority, of Conservative councillors who make a point of ignoring my presence at council meetings, but those two are among a small number that I would happily label nonentities. Never in the past five years contributing anything of note whatsoever.
Formal library closure report.