WELL here’s a turn-up for the books. Without a word of warning, an announcement was made at the end of the council meeting this week that Shirley Library could be moved to the new retail area in the Heart of Shirley. No consultation, no discussion, no opportunity for residents or other parties to express a view.
Now in principle I like the idea of a new library and I like the idea of mixing a variety of activities with a retail development. The increased footfall benefiting the shops as well as increasing custom for the library and other leisure activities is pure Mary Portas. (Speaking of whom, I’d like to congratulate Shirley Town Centre Partnership for winning a £10,000 Portas award to enhance the town centre).
But while we can welcome new developments like this, some questions remain unanswered.
Will the increased footfall increase demand for parking at the top end of town? There are already question marks over the adequacy of parking for the existing shops.
Will the removal of the library further decrease the number of shoppers at the southern end of Shirley?
Will library users welcome having to search for a parking place and lug armfuls of book to their new library. The existing library has its own convenient car park.
And where will the money come from for this new library?
These are questions I’ll be asking the Conservative council leaders.
I’d also like to ask what YOU think. Much of the resistance to Heart of Shirley in the past has been generated by lack of real consultation with local people.
To let me know your thoughts, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write at FREEPOST RLYX-BJYS-EKRX, Solihull, B92 7HP. If you live in Shirley look for a consultation form in your Focus.