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  • Jo Clement

The Final Fight?

Darlington Borough Council asked and a 91% majority responded to KEEP THE LIBRARY IN CROWN STREET. Despite the results of this consultation process, Nick Wallis ignores it and persists to bulldoze ahead, 'moving the library' to buoy the financial sinkhole that is the Dolphin Leisure Centre. 


We're gathering to fight this decision and remind the Council that they have absolutely no obligation to keep the Dolly going but a statutory duty to provide us with a comprehensive and efficient library service. The seriousness (and ridiculousness in tandem) of this situation has been highlighted by none other than the satirical news and current affairs paper, Private Eye. Thank heavens someone is paying attention...

We don't believe that the Dolphin Centre can possibly meet the statutory requirement a library demands. This expensive and naive mistake will impact the community for years. The move not only ignores the covenant placed upon the building (I've written about this previously) it is openly moves the library as far from a suitable environment as possible.

Leisure centres, by their nature, are loud, energetic spaces. We move from a fully accessible building and lose a dedicated Art Gallery. Is this an efficient service? Nope. If you're worried about the air quality in the Dolly, as we call it, or the impact of the air impact on stock, rare books and other archives, we're told not to. The majority won't be on site. They'll be held elsewhere. The most appalling part of this so called 'off-site' development? They'll keep the archive beneath the library while it stands empty and STILL move the library to the leisure centre. (Doesn't make sense to me, either!)


This removes full access to the materials. Is this a comprehensive service? Absolutely not. But guess what folks, Nick Wallis assures us this will all be better for us in the long run. His justification for cramming a purpose built library into the back rooms of a leisure centre falls purely on longer hours and new computers. What he fails to mention about these longer hours is that a chunk of them are designed to support a dramatically reduced 'pop-in' service. 91% of Crown Street users disagree strongly with the move. 


We have, sadly, a vendetta against Crown Street, just like the one before with the Arts Centre, a building which was sold off, half-demolished and currently stands empty. What can empty buildings possibly add to the local community not just aesthetically but in practice? Wallis has boldly claimed that said even if we raised the full amount to keep Crown Street going financially year on year, he would personally choose not to keep the library. What is going on in Darlington?


If, like me, you disagree with the choice to move Crown Street and the poor financial reasoning behind it all, I implore you to come to this protest and fight this man's ridiculous decision. We'll be inviting protesters to convene at Darlington Town Hall and contribute to a long scroll with messages to be given to Jenny Chapman MP along with a letter asking for some good old fashioned common sense before these decisions - opposed by 91% - go too far. 

Cockerton Folk - your branch library is only safe until March next year. This is a strategic decision to keep you sweet (and quiet) while the Crown Street move blows over. Don't fall for it. We need everyone there to protest. Bring tambourines. Bring the kids, paint a face, paint a banner. If you're not there, you can't be heard. Join the protest event here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1198294603544086/  

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