Fate of Tygervalley library could reach High Court

Tygervalley library’s staff and resources are to be absorbed by neighbouring libraries in Brackenfell, Kraaifontein and Durbanville, according to the City of Cape Town.

The outcry surrounding the closure of Tygervalley library looks set to reach the Cape High Court as the City of Cape Town awaits a legal battle with the library’s patrons.

Previously, the City said “budget constraints” were behind its decision to close the Tygervalley library, which has more than 4000 members, at the end of April (“Tygervalley library to close,” Northern News, January 20).

The decision to close the library had caused quite a stir amongst its patrons as a “Save Tygervalley library” petition received over 1500 signatures.

In light of this upset, the Friends of Tygervalley, a voluntary organisation opposing the library’s closure, took action through their attorney, Raymond McCreath Inc, and served the City a letter on Monday April 11.

In the letter, the library patrons demand that the council take urgent steps to reverse its decision to terminate the library’s lease with Tygervalley Centre, or otherwise they will approach the Cape High Court for urgent relief.

The letter argues that the council’s decision to close the library was taken without any prior notice to, or consultation with the community.

The letter also states that this decision is unlawful, for the lack of public participation as required under section 33 of the Constitution.

The City held a public meeting detailing their reasons for closing the library, at Durbanville library, on Tuesday March 1 (“Petition to stop City closing Tygervalley library,” Northern News, February 24).

However, the letter alleges that the City may have made a “conscious decision” to delay engagement with the community until after the closure decision was already made and denied the public the opportunity to voice their concerns and ensure that the council could make informed decisions.

The letter also says that no public notice of the meeting at Durbanville library was published.

The patrons also said in the letter that Tygervalley library’s operational costs are significantly lower than other libraries assessed as part of the City’s “review”, and enjoys high performance rankings in terms of high circulation and membership.

The library lease costs the City almost R500 000 a year and expires at the end of June.

The Friends of Tygervalley Library are still awaiting the City’s response to the letter.

The City confirmed that they have received communication from the attorneys representing the Interested and Affected Persons of the Tygervalley library and are studying the documents received.

The City says they are in the process of obtaining legal advice and have communicated this to the attorney of the Interested and Affected Persons of the Tygervalley library, whom have confirmed to not institute urgent legal proceedings pending the City’s formal response.