THE decision to move Paulsgrove’s library to a smaller building has prompted furious claims that the north of the city is being neglected.
Attempts to find a new home for the library – which is inside a community centre in Marsden Road – were made after council officers decided it was underused because of its location.
Figures show the library lends out 27,555 items per year and has an annual footfall of 35,196 people – but this only accounts for 3.2 per cent of the items issued across the city and 4.5 per cent of the overall footfall.
Portsmouth City Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, Cllr Lee Hunt, has now decided the library would be better placed to attract more visitors in the Allaway Avenue shopping precinct.
But residents and councillors have criticised the choice of a smaller building to house the library, arguing that it will provide a second-class service.
Paulsgrove Labour councillor David Horne said that compared to Southsea’s library – which benefited from a larger building and increased funding when it moved to Palmerston Road – the north of Portsmouth was being neglected.
‘We are fed up with having second best and all we are asking for is equality,’ he said.
‘Are we going to get a library opening which is two-and-a-half times the size and with three-and-a-half times the money spent on it? Or are we going to get a down-graded service? And I can’t see that you would get more people going into the library in this location.’
Member of the Paulsgrove Residents’ Association Patricia Russell said: ‘They are saying that people don’t know where it is and the hill is too steep to walk up carrying books.
‘But a lot of people on their way to Tesco walk up and down Marsden Road every day and walk past the library carrying their shopping.’
Mrs Russell added: ‘Paulsgrove has always been neglected for a long, long time and it continues to be.’
Cllr Hunt said the council was dealing with Paulsgrove in exactly the same way it had dealt with Southsea.
He said: ‘This is a smaller site but a more flexible site.
‘The new space will be well able to take all services and facilities which are included in the old library. Our intention is to increase the level of activity.’