ANGER over plans to move Paulsgrove’s library has forced a U-turn from Portsmouth City Council.
The authority proposed relocating the service to a smaller empty shop to try and improve visitor numbers, but has now backed down in the face of residents’ opposition.
Hundreds of letters and emails objecting to the move were received as part of a formal consultation, which was started after the council’s Labour group handed in a 1,100-name petition.
Residents were unhappy that the administration did not ask their views before taking the decision to move the library from Marsden Road to Allaway Avenue.
Many also didn’t like the choice of a smaller building for the new facility – down from 114sq m to 74sq m – and the lack of investment compared with the new Southsea library.
Labour councillor for Paulsgrove John Ferrett led the campaign to keep the library where it is.
He said: ‘I give credit to the council for responding to the strength of feeling, although it could have done it sooner.
‘It is welcome that a move is now off the table, but we still need to do more to get people to use the existing library.
‘All the measures that would have been used to promote the new facility instead need to be used now to get numbers up.’
Paulsgrove residents association member Pat Russell, of Lime Grove, said the decision was ‘a victory for common sense’.
‘I’m really pleased as I think everybody in the area is,’ she said. ‘It would have been wrong to spend money on a new building when we have already got a perfectly good purpose-built one.
‘It would have been such a waste of money.’
In an email to Paulsgrove’s councillors, Cllr Lee Hunt, Lib Dem cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, wrote: ‘I have come to the conclusion that it is clear residents, traders and others you are elected to represent do not want this move.
‘I have instructed officers to stop any more work on this matter. I have listened and responded to what the local community tell me they want.
‘Whilst Paulsgrove will carry on as normal, none of the above resolves the concerns that the library service and I have around the declining use of Paulsgrove library, despite much effort and resources put in.
‘I will continue the ongoing work with officers to deliver a new Cosham library and continue investigations to establish a new Drayton library.’