The Central Library building is a key part of Stockport’s heritage. Built in 1913 it is one of the original Carnegie funded libraries. Its architects also designed the Manchester Stock Exchange and the Royal Exchange building. It forms a group with the town hall, the art gallery, the infirmary building and the statue of Cobden.

Central Library is in the centre of my constituency. There are now more than four thousand signatures on a petition to ‘Save Stockport’s Historic Library’. I have received a large volume of correspondence on this issue and I must represent the views of these constituents and local organisations alarmed at the proposals for the library.

I spoke about libraries and our historic town centre in parliament this week-https://fb.watch/2sgErCWX9-/

Before the pandemic Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council (SMBC) had already faced large cuts to its budget. Local authorities bore the brunt of a decade of austerity policies inflicted by the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition and continued by the Conservative government. Covid has exacerbated the pre-existing crisis in local authority funding. I am on record calling for a fair financial settlement for SMBC from central government, to address these issues. My support for SMBC’s bid for Future High Streets Fund is also on record, but this bid should not impact adversely on the need to preserve the historic town centre.

Manchester City Council also has an historic central library. Although initially closed by coronavirus it was reopened four months ago. Stockport Heritage Trust has been advised that our central library could also be opened in a way that would be Covid secure. 

At the council meeting on 22 October this year it was resolved that Stockport Central Library should be re-opened as soon as possible. I strongly support the central library returning to full use as soon as possible at the same location.

The same meeting resolved that there should be a proper public consultation before any decision to close Central Library permanently. It is especially important that fears of a ‘fait accompli’ do not take hold and that decision making is entirely transparent.

Now that the covid vaccine is being rolled out, we may be a few months away from being able to return to less distanced arrangements in public buildings. The early reopening of Stockport Central Library will be an important sign that the worst of Covid is behind us.

My thanks to all Stockport Library Service staff and all council workers for the work they do, including those seconded to the Covid response.

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