Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has attributed the imminent closure of the Tygervalley and Plumstead libraries to the impact of Covid-19 on the economy and a decline in revenue.
The two libraries are scheduled to be closed when their current leases expire at the end of April and the end of June next year, respectively.
Last month the council resolved that the resources within these facilities be reallocated to other libraries, staff positions ring-fenced and these positions be abolished through natural attrition while operating budgets be reallocated.
In a desperate attempt to save their library, Bellville residents started a petition to stop the closure of the Tygervalley Library after operating for 30 years. The residents say alternative libraries in the area were either unsafe or required travelling.
The Kenridge, The Hills Ratepayers Association vice-chairperson Marle Kroge said residents were deeply saddened by the proposed closure. Kroge said the closure was a huge loss.
“The closure of any library is a loss to the community regardless of the travelling and risk and challenges of going to other options, be it Durbanville or Tygervalley,” she said.
Plumstead Civic and Ratepayers Association chairperson Mark Van Wyk said they were not privy to the rationale behind the closure and that while rumours were doing the rounds, they didn’t know all the facts.
Stop CoCT founder Sandra Dickson said the City’s cutting of services to the public while having R18 billion cash in the bank as of December was questionable.
“The City reports a constant debt collection rate of 98%, so what less money are they getting in as a result of Covid-19? This ”excuse“is ill-thought-out, symptomatic of a city being run by cold accountants with no regard for people or responsibility to the people they serve. Renting a space by the City is not unheard of as it can certainly not own every space it uses. Libraries are not just an ‘expense’, but should be upgraded to be more than a repository of books. They should be modernised, not shut down,” she said.
Mayco member for Community Services and Health Patricia van der Ross said the sustainability of the City required urgent review and council had decided to focus on its core business and mandates as a priority.
She said budget constraints, now, required a focus on reducing external leases.
Van der Ross said there were alternatives for Tygervalley library users in Durbanville, Bellville, Kraaifontein, and Brackenfell libraries. She said for Plumstead patrons would be able to use Southfield and Wynberg which she said were nearby and within reach of public transport.
Van der Ross said there would be a consultation process regarding alternative measures to the closures.