Kingston Council refuses to deny Surbiton library sell-off

Kingston Guardian: Kingston Council has refused to deny the plan Kingston Council has refused to deny the plan

Kingston Council has been accused of “selling off the family silver” after it refused to confirm whether it planned to flog Surbiton library.

Deputy leader Liz Green, who spoke in favour of the move at a Kingston Council assets strategy meeting last week, played down the rumours, saying there were “no immediate plans” to sell the Ewell Road site.

She did, however, fail to rule out the move, admitting the site, along with others in the borough, was “under review” and that there was a “possibility” it would be sold.

Coun Green said she would personally be in favour of moving the library to a more central location, possibly Victoria Road, though was keen to stress that it was not the opinion of the council.

She said the current library in Surbiton was not “fit for purpose”, that the 1930s building was very expensive to maintain and that it should be in a more central location.

However, she was keen to assure residents that there would always be a library in Surbiton.

She said: “I cannot confirm the library site will be sold but, on the other hand, I cannot say that it will not.

“At this very early stage we are considering a number of options, of which the library is one. There are no concrete plans to sell Surbiton library but at a time when we are trying to save money it would be foolish not to review all the sites the council owns to look into how the communities use the building.

“There will be a library in Surbiton going forward, whether it is at the current site or another one maybe closer to the town centre – I cannot say as it is still at a very early stage.”

A building that is home to adults with learning difficulties and a memorial commemorating victims of World War II form part of the land that could be sold off with Surbiton library.

Ron Morris, of Kingston Royal British Legion, said it would be “disappointing if the site were sold to private owners”.

He said: “If this happens and it was to fall into the hands of private owners then there is no guarantee that it will be looked after. And if it were to be moved, where would it be moved?”

At Sessions House, next to Surbiton library on Ewell Road, service users can talk to nurses and access services such as speech and language therapy.

It is run by social enterprise Your Health Care, which runs some health care services for NHS Kingston, who run a number of programmes, including physiotherapy, nursing and dietetics.

The war memorial, situated in the gardens of Sessions Houses, plays a pivotal role in Surbiton’s Remembrance Day service.

The grade two listed building, built in 1896, has had many uses throughout its 100-year plus history, including being the headquarters for Surbiton district council.

Berrylands Councillor Karen George, who was also present at the meeting, believes selling off the library has been in the pipeline for a long time.

She said: “The Liberal Democrat administration running Kingston Council now proposes selling off the family silver.

“It is clear Liz Green is in favour of the move and she wields a lot of power, so if she wants it to happen it will happen. It seemed like a set-up because, as soon as it was mentioned, she jumped all over it.

“It was clear that it had been thought about carefully because she mentioned that the British Legion would have to be consulted about moving the war memorial.”

Comments (6)

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8:53am Mon 7 May 12

Leslie Ian Jones says...

Last week article "Library's future is up in the air" intrigues me. In raises so many questions that require answers. For now whether Surbiton library will close or be moved elsewhere is for future debate. Still Deputy Leader of Kingston Council Liz Green is quoted as saying the library isn't "fit for purpose" and that the 1930's building was very expensive to maintain and that in her opinion the library would be better located in Victoria Road. Councillor Karen George believes there is an intent to sell off the library and said Cllr Liz Green is in favour of the move and that she "wields a lot of power."

Surbiton library has many services ranging from books, computer games, language courses, children's groups, adult reading classes, internet access, computer software for disabled persons, and of course a hall for hire which can be used for talks, films, clubs and fitness classes. The library is accessible for the disabled by ramp, with wheelchair friendly computer desks and disabled toilets. Seem very "fit for purpose" in my opinion. As for very expensive to maintain. If true that must apply to all that group of buildings, from the Session House to the Fire Station. What a prize location for a property developer they would be. Selling off the "family silver" indeed!

So what of a possible Victoria Road location? Where would any library be located along that road? Maybe Cllr Green could enlighten us with a location. After all she does "wield a lot of power" in the opinion of another councillor. Might be the time to remind all elected officials that their "power" is given by the people. As such the people will hold you to account. We shall be watching this Library story closely.
Last week article "Library's future is up in the air" intrigues me. In raises so many questions that require answers. For now whether Surbiton library will close or be moved elsewhere is for future debate. Still Deputy Leader of Kingston Council Liz Green is quoted as saying the library isn't "fit for purpose" and that the 1930's building was very expensive to maintain and that in her opinion the library would be better located in Victoria Road. Councillor Karen George believes there is an intent to sell off the library and said Cllr Liz Green is in favour of the move and that she "wields a lot of power." Surbiton library has many services ranging from books, computer games, language courses, children's groups, adult reading classes, internet access, computer software for disabled persons, and of course a hall for hire which can be used for talks, films, clubs and fitness classes. The library is accessible for the disabled by ramp, with wheelchair friendly computer desks and disabled toilets. Seem very "fit for purpose" in my opinion. As for very expensive to maintain. If true that must apply to all that group of buildings, from the Session House to the Fire Station. What a prize location for a property developer they would be. Selling off the "family silver" indeed! So what of a possible Victoria Road location? Where would any library be located along that road? Maybe Cllr Green could enlighten us with a location. After all she does "wield a lot of power" in the opinion of another councillor. Might be the time to remind all elected officials that their "power" is given by the people. As such the people will hold you to account. We shall be watching this Library story closely. Leslie Ian Jones
  • Score: 0

4:31pm Mon 7 May 12

JPR says...

I wonder why nobody explains to these councillors they are chosen by the people to represent the people and not to imagine they are smarter than the people they hate so much.
Why are they elected ? Who could tell the people why we dare vote for these councillors who do not care about the people ? If you vote for a party or an ideology do not expect any respect from the councillors who only represent their leaders and their ideologies of the moment.
I wonder why nobody explains to these councillors they are chosen by the people to represent the people and not to imagine they are smarter than the people they hate so much. Why are they elected ? Who could tell the people why we dare vote for these councillors who do not care about the people ? If you vote for a party or an ideology do not expect any respect from the councillors who only represent their leaders and their ideologies of the moment. JPR
  • Score: 0

8:01pm Mon 7 May 12

Kohelet says...

"people they hate so much."

That is a ridiculous comment
"people they hate so much." That is a ridiculous comment Kohelet
  • Score: 0

8:42pm Mon 7 May 12

Beverly RA says...

Once more Cllr Green is talking about what she wants, not what residents want, maybe we like the old victorian building,maybe we think its part of our history, maybe if she had agreed to spend less millions on the Rose using ratepayers money, we would have money to maintain our Libraries and day centres for the elderly such as the one they pulled down in New Malden, same reason given there, not fit for purpose.
reason was because they let it run down over many years then give that as an excuse.
Its no wander that they only
come third at the bye election in New Malden getting just 400 votes with Labour coming second.
Once more Cllr Green is talking about what she wants, not what residents want, maybe we like the old victorian building,maybe we think its part of our history, maybe if she had agreed to spend less millions on the Rose using ratepayers money, we would have money to maintain our Libraries and day centres for the elderly such as the one they pulled down in New Malden, same reason given there, not fit for purpose. reason was because they let it run down over many years then give that as an excuse. Its no wander that they only come third at the bye election in New Malden getting just 400 votes with Labour coming second. Beverly RA
  • Score: 0

12:49am Thu 10 May 12

mikenm says...

Standard practice, starve it of funding, let it run down and fall into disrepair, then close it, demolish it and flog it off. Along with all the adjacent bits, such as Sessions House and the Library Annex, which houses the Community Library and the two halls. And the car park. Nice big development site. To go with the **** Crescent site in New Malden, formerly housing the Crescent and Causeway centres. It's a reasonable question to ask if they hate us; they certainly don't seem to consider us. And the LibDem administration definitely hates libraries. Roll on 2014, although nothing will be left by then.
Standard practice, starve it of funding, let it run down and fall into disrepair, then close it, demolish it and flog it off. Along with all the adjacent bits, such as Sessions House and the Library Annex, which houses the Community Library and the two halls. And the car park. Nice big development site. To go with the **** Crescent site in New Malden, formerly housing the Crescent and Causeway centres. It's a reasonable question to ask if they hate us; they certainly don't seem to consider us. And the LibDem administration definitely hates libraries. Roll on 2014, although nothing will be left by then. mikenm
  • Score: 0

5:46pm Fri 11 May 12

Communityminded says...

All the information is weighted to the supposed benefits of closure - failings of the current building and savings etc - with no real argument articulated by Ms Green about what this will deliver in terms of improving services and access. We all understand the need to budget appropriately at the moment but this should NOT be a race to the bottom that sees us forgo access to an important educational resource. The LibDems should step-up and tell us what their (obviously considered) plans about closure will give us in it's place. An under funded library in a disused shop in Surbiton, doesn't strike me as something that I think justifies this decision.... But then I suppose, it won't matter so much to the people making these decisions as they will continue to sit at home buying books from amazon on their mac book pro... its just the rest of us that will lose out.
All the information is weighted to the supposed benefits of closure - failings of the current building and savings etc - with no real argument articulated by Ms Green about what this will deliver in terms of improving services and access. We all understand the need to budget appropriately at the moment but this should NOT be a race to the bottom that sees us forgo access to an important educational resource. The LibDems should step-up and tell us what their (obviously considered) plans about closure will give us in it's place. An under funded library in a disused shop in Surbiton, doesn't strike me as something that I think justifies this decision.... But then I suppose, it won't matter so much to the people making these decisions as they will continue to sit at home buying books from amazon on their mac book pro... its just the rest of us that will lose out. Communityminded
  • Score: 0

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