The petition of residents of Leicester East,
Declares that Leicester City Council’s plans to move the Belgrave Library will have a detrimental effect on the whole community, local school children and other members of the public; further that it will have to downsize the services currently provided such as access to computers, national newspapers, reading classes and book review sessions; further that moving it to Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre is not conducive to the atmosphere of what a library is and should be; further that the Belgrave Library is one of the few libraries remaining in Leicester; further that the residents are also concerned about Leicester City Council’s plans to remove the cooking facilities at the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, which currently serves the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre Lunch Club which provides freshly cooked and culturally appropriate vegetarian hot meals to the elderly, disabled, diabetics and vulnerable people in the community; further that if the cooking facilities were to be removed, these communities would be deprived not only of a hot meal but also of their ability to be sociable and receive support on things that they do not understand; and further that they will become isolated and a burden on Leicester City Council who would need to provide more specialist individual care.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Leicester City Council to reconsider their decision to move the Belgrave Library to Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre and further encourage the Council not to remove the cooking facilities in Belgrave Neighbourhood as it provides a vital service to the elderly in the community.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Keith Vaz, Official Report, 8 November 2016; Vol. 616, c. 1487.]
Observations from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Marcus Jones):
The Government recognise the important role that councils play in helping to provide community services, like libraries. However, all of Government have had to make some tough decisions to avoid putting our deficit reduction programme at risk, and with councils accounting for a quarter of all public spending, they need to continue playing their part in tackling the deficit. Leicester, like all councils, needs to find savings while protecting local services.
Our fair and sustainable financial settlement gives local authorities the ability to protect important local services. As democratically elected organisations, they are independent of central Government and are responsible for managing their budgets in line with local priorities. However, central Government expect local authorities to take on the challenge of making savings, while continuing to provide excellent services to local communities.