Closing the library at The Entrance would be a super dumb decision – Mehan

Despite community protests and pleas from The Entrance MP, David Mehan, Central Coast Council has earmarked The Entrance library for closure.

It appears that the creche at Lake Haven Recreation Centre could also be one other service on the chopping block.

At Council’s meeting on March 23, a whole range of service cuts were announced in a business recovery plan in the aftermath of the financial crisis revealed in October 2020.

Why The Entrance library was singled out for closure, as opposed to any other library, is a question Council was not prepared to answer at this stage.

However, it was explained that the library’s potential closure depended on the outcome of an organisational and staffing restructure yet to be completed, and it being reviewed in conjunction with other aspects of the overall financial plan.

Although Council has a list of potential service cuts, none of them can be confirmed until the completion of the wide ranging review of its operations.

Council will publicly exhibit a set of service reductions alongside the budget and operational plan for 2021-22 for community input before June.

Council has had to take significant steps towards financial recovery, which included an organisational structure review that requires savings of $31M from reducing costs.

It has released the next stage of the proposed organisation structure to staff for consultation and this indicates a reduction in staff resources across the whole organisation.

This means there will be impacts on service delivery to the community and decisions will be made by prioritising safety, emergency or critical works, meeting legislative requirements and essential service delivery, said a statement from Council.

Meanwhile, The Entrance MP has started a community petition in a bid to overturn what he called a “super dumb” decision to close The Entrance library.

This follows a community rally outside the library on March 9, to show support to retain the library services.

“The library is a community literacy service, a meeting place, a technology hub and a support to education,” Mehan said.

“The library also provides Council services such as: payment for rates, water and sewerage services; animal registrations; viewing of Council plans and policies; and, lodging a general inquiry to Council.

“There’s no other way to access Council services for people who aren’t computer savvy.

“There’s no other access to Council services on the eastern side of the lake.

“There’s also internet and computer access for those who don’t have such luxury at home and the library is a meeting place for book clubs, knitting groups and mindfulness groups, just to name a few.

“Just the other day, Council closed off on community consultation about The Entrance Place Plan to try and revitalise the area, and it’s not a bad document, but they’ve spent a lot of money on that for consultants, but it’s really dumb to have a revitalisation strategy and then close a library which attracts people to the town.

“We are still fighting to keep our Commonwealth Bank branch open, we’ve lost Westpac, we lost the Motor Registry a few years ago and each of those little losses drags down the economic activity.

“It’s just laughable that Council comes out with a document that they’re going to activate the area but then they want to close one of the main reasons why people come to the town centre.

“Council just doesn’t seem to get it, the types of services ordinary people need, and a library is basic to that,” Mehan said.

Sue Murray

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