Saturday, September 30, 2023

Opinion: “Our libraries Are A Key Public Service And Should Be Kept Under Local Authority Control”

Labour Cllr Fay Atkinson, Belper East Ward, speaks to Nailed about some of the local issues she has encountered since she was elected in May.

She will be available for a series of AVBC surgeries with first being held at Alton Manor  Community Centre, Gregorys Way, Belper Whitemoor Centre, 100 John O’Gaunts Way, Belper (10:00am until 12 noon) on June 23. More details are at the bottom of the article.  


The Conservative run County Council is proposing changes to Derbyshire Libraries. For Belper Library the proposal is to cut opening hours by a minimum of 5 hours per week. This is at a time of higher demand. Universal credit is being rolled out in Amber Valley requiring claimants to make their claim online.

Libraries and local councils have been designated as places where computers can be accessed. Belper’s library is part of the fabric of our town.

There is nothing like going into a library and choosing a book, this experience for many starts as a young child. The proposed reduction of hours is a major concern when literacy levels are at an all time low.

Our libraries are a key public service and should be kept under local authority control to ensure consistent quality standards with experienced and qualified staff.

I have asked the town council to respond to the consultation in support of our library and its staff. The consultation is open to all Derbyshire residents.


Whilst out canvassing many of you raised issues about our playgrounds/parks.

I have discussed this with borough officers who inform me there is a limited budget for capital projects and maintenance of open spaces. Spending is allocated on average life expectancy of equipment, risk, disability discrimination Act accessibility, play value and index of multiple deprivation. It is important that our community should have access to positive outdoor play/sports facilities/parks for both physical and mental health. Any development of recreational space should be guided by what local people need and want. Please complete this survey as a parent/carer or young person, so that this can be fed into any future plans. If you are moved to join a group looking at potential alternative funding streams include your email address.

On Friday I was out with Street Angels who do a great job on the streets and estates of Belper offering practical support and help where they can and a listening ear for anyone who wants to talk.

If you are interested in joining them as a volunteer please contact Tony Ward, co-ordinator

Thanks to Belper East Residents for electing me on May 3rd, please contact me on matters concerning Amber Valley Borough Council by coming along to one of my surgeries, phoning 07894668360 or email.

By Fay Atkinson

Fay Atkinson is the newly elected Labour Councillor for the Belper East Ward, she has spent 30 years working in and managing domestic abuse services in Derbyshire – including refuges, services for high risk victims, counselling, children’s support services and helpline. She is also a governor at Belper School.


Claire Meese


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