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Campaign launched to stop Bexley historical archives moving to Bromley

PUBLISHED: 17:35 30 October 2013 | UPDATED: 17:35 30 October 2013

Group of volunteer First World War soldiers on the roof of Vickers, Crayford. Pic by Bexley Archives and Local Studies Centre.

Group of volunteer First World War soldiers on the roof of Vickers, Crayford. Pic by Bexley Archives and Local Studies Centre.

Archant

As Remembrance Day approaches, a new campaign has been launched by campaigners fighting to stop Bexley's historical archives from being transferred to Bromley.

They say timing of the proposals could not be worse, with the 100 year anniversary of the First World War next year.

At a public cabinet meeting two weeks ago, Bexley council announced it intended to “develop further cost efficiencies through shared library services” with Bromley Council.

The proposal has been described by one resident as “absolutely horrendous” with school children, families and local historians all set to be affected by the move.

The Save Bexley Archives campaign says people’s interest in history is expected to peak during the next year to mark the special centenary and moving the records is likely to have a detrimental effect on those wishing to delve into the past.

Penny Duggan, 37, an editor, who volunteers at the library, said: “It is just absolutely horrendous. The impact it will have on people will be huge.

“On the Bromley Council website they are big on the active role in the community but they are going to now take away something which gave people a role in the community.

“Now those local relationships could be gone – you can’t have Bexley school pupils going all the way to Bromley.

“Once they go, the archives aren’t going to come back.”

Ms Duggan, of Sidcup, set up a Twitter account (@SaveBexArchives) to canvass support on Tuesday (22).

She says she visits the Townley Road library “at least once a week” to help out and is not the only resident to be dismayed at the move.

Sue Thompson, 70, of Berkeley Avenue, says her grandchild would be the third generation in her family to use the public facility.

If the move does happen Bexley schools will have to travel more than 10 miles to Bromley Central Library in Bromley High Street.

“Young children use that library for project work,” said Mrs Thompson. “I remember going there when I was a child. How are they going to do that and research the place where they live, if it is in Bromley?

“They could put all the archives online, but I doubt they will do that.”

Ms Duggan says currently only “a tiny percentage” of the archives are online.

Retired Pip Pulfer, of The Crescent, Bexley, feels the council should be the ones to feel the pinch - not the residents.

On being asked how the money should be saved, Mr Pulfer said: “They should cut the councillors’ salaries instead.

“Say you live in Abbey Wood which is nearer Bexley – people are never going to travel to Bromley. It is not the best of places to travel to.

“Everything is wrong about the move.”

Dana Wiffen, 60, of Cold Blow Crescent, Bexley, added: “I feel it is a bad time to move. The people who want to use them are those who want to reminisce and schools who are doing school projects, especially for the centenary year of the First World War.”

The council claim the move will save the borough £41,000 over the financial year because “operating costs” will be reduced by moving to Bromley.

A spokesman added: “The proposals on which the council would like the views of local people aim to balance the council’s budget.

Residents can put forward their views online on the council website - the deadline for responses is December 18.

The council says 15 image collections and some planning collections have been digitised already.

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