WISBECH: Mayor's trip to Wymondham library sees him questioning Wisbech library costs
EXCLUSIVEBy John Elworthy THE Mayor of Wisbech stood in front of a new £2 million Norfolk library this week and declared that this is what we could, perhaps should have had. Councillor Jonathan Farmer, who last month attacked the £2.5 million re-develo
By John Elworthy
THE Mayor of Wisbech stood in front of a new £2 million Norfolk library this week and declared that "this is what we could, perhaps should have had."
Councillor Jonathan Farmer, who last month attacked the £2.5 million re-development of Wisbech Library, said he was amazed that Cambridgeshire County Council had been quoting up to £7.5 million for a new library.
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"That figure would suggest the new library would cost vastly more than the Wisbech Boathouse - which incidentally would make a splendid library," he said.
Cllr Farmer believes the county council failed to engage a wide range of consultees before pressing ahead with the re-building of the Ely Place library, helped by £2 million of Big Lottery funding.
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This week he visited Wymondham Library and said it was a template for a perfect community building- and cost just £2 million.
Cllr Farmer believes Wisbech is getting a raw deal compared to March and compared to the rest of the county.
In Wisbech, he said, there were 5,293 children in the catchment area- 500 more than in the catchment area for March Library- yet Wisbech had only 6,763 children's books compared to 8,331 in March.
"March has fewer children but 1,500 more books," he said "Wisbech, despite having more children, has fewer books than March and both are below the average for Cambridgeshire which is 9,242."
Cllr Farmer said:
He added: "March is being starved- well certainly on a diet- but Wisbech is most definitely being starved. Fenland is getting a raw deal on children's books."
Cllr Farmer also claimed opening hours for March Library were higher than Wisbech- 53.5 hours a week compared to just 45 in Wisbech.
However Mike Hosking, director of community learning and development for the county council, said he was disappointed Cllr Farmer "continues to make these statements. He has been offered a dialogue to correct the errors but he has not taken it up."
Mr Hosking said he was astounded by claims of lack of consultation since all councillors had been contacted, an official had even spoken at a town council meeting, and there had been widespread talks with users and non users.
He said once re-built Wisbech would get 12,500 new books and once it develops late night learning opportunities, such as March, opening hours would expand. Indeed the county council was considering seven day a week opening.