Culture, Media and Sport CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Martin Hext

The Impact Library Closures have on Local Communities

The impact on a small business.

Loss of passing trade.

A survey of how the library is used in combination with nearby facilities, both private and public.

1. This is my experience of the closure of Blackheath Village Library in the London Borough of Lewisham.

2. I have run my hairdressing business in Blackheath for over 30 years and have suffered a reduction in retail trade since the library next door closed in May 2011, as part of Lewisham’s budget savings.

3. My business was well situated just off the main shopping street in a cul-de-sac with light vehicular traffic but within a few yards of bus stops, the train station, a bank, a post office, a public lavatory, a small car park and until May 2011, it was next, door to the library. In 2009–10 Blackheath Village Library had 91,797 visits. Most visitors to the library passed in front of my shop window and entrance.

4. Now the library has closed the only passing trade is from people going to the Post Office or the public lavatories, but both are on the other side of the road.

5. My retail business, selling hair care products at the front of the salon, has diminished and I have no doubt that this is due to the loss of footfall following the closure of the library.

6. My shop and the former library are in Lewisham Borough within meters of the border with Greenwich Borough. Although my shop is in Lewisham, my home, nearby, is in Greenwich so my vote cannot influence Lewisham Council’s decisions which have so badly affected my business.

7. The effect that a library has on the whole atmosphere of the area around it should be one of the factors taken into account when decisions are made. As far as I know there has been no survey of the way visits to the library are combined with other local transactions and activities. A good survey or questionnaire regularly undertaken would provide information about how well the local community was being served by private and public businesses and facilities.

April 2012

Prepared 5th November 2012