Plans for a new library in memory of a much-loved councillor are being drawn up, it has been announced.
Milton Keynes Council’s leader Pete Marland revealed at a meeting of the Cabinet that officers are looking at the numbers with a view to making progress as soon as next year’s budget.
Cllr Marland (Lab, Wolverton) said: “We recently lost a former member of this council, Kevin Wilson, who had, for years, said that one part of this city that is not served by a library is Woughton Community Council area.
“I think it is amiss of this council not to have a library in that area and therefore having discussed it, we will be making a further recommendation.
“In memory of Cllr Wilson, officers will work with the Cabinet member, Woughton Community Council and other local organisations to produce a viability and impact assessment regarding opening a long overdue permanent library in the Woughton Community Council area. It is part of our commitment to the wider regeneration of those areas.
“This council has consistently spoken about how regeneration is bigger than physical regeneration but very little has been spoken about what that means.
“Having a library and I believe committing to a library as part of regeneration plans as quickly as possible isn’t just a legacy for Kevin but actually a real bonus and what regeneration is all about, which is expanding the life opportunities to children in those areas.
“We might have some proposals around the budget about how we intend to take that forward.”
Cllr Moriah Priestley (Lab, Milton Keynes Central), said: “Having this announcement made today only goes to add weight to what Woughton Community Council are planning. I am hoping that they will partner with us to deliver that vision.”
The Cabinet agreed to a new seven-point library plan to cover the period from 2020 to 2025. Under this, the Cabinet member for libraries, Cllr Zoe Nolan (Lab, Loughton & Shenley) said the Full Council will be asked to commit not to close any of its nine libraries and to invest in them. There is also a mobile library service.
Conservative councillor David Hopkins (Danesborough & Walton) offered his party’s “total support”, adding that they and the Labour party had worked together to stop the Lib Dems closing libraries when they held the reigns of power.
For the Lib Dems, Cllr Robin Bradburn (Bradwell) said the council’s budget scrutiny committee, which he chairs, will want to see that there is evidence that efficiencies are being made “before proceeding to the second phase” of the plan.
Cllr Bradburn resisted the chance to respond to Cllr Hopkins’ political point. But Cllr Marland said the reasons closures were considered in the past was the council had to make £160million of cuts over 10 years.
Cllr Marland admitted to being a converted fan of libraries after seeing the face of his four-year-old son, and the wonder he saw on his face, when he had been reading a book in a library.