Saturday 1 November 2014

Honey, I shrunk the libraries: Barnet Tories, wielding the knife once more

Smiler with a knife: Tory 'leader' and Totteridge councillor Richard Cornelius, who began his career in local politics because ... his local library was threatened with closure.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, in the Rotten Borough of Broken Barnet, that if a thing ain't broke, it soon will be. 

Just as soon as your scheming Tory councillors and their nominal servants, the senior management team, and the parasitical cluster of consultants that plague this council, get their sweaty fingers on it, pull it apart, and throw it in the arms of the outsourcing companies that drive slowly past the gates of North London Business Park, 'looking for business'.

Over the last few years, we have seen our local public services pimped, trafficked, or abused and neglected, prepared for privatisation and put up for grabs to any would be profiteering punters. 

Tory members have been persuaded to allow this by dangling the lure of easy savings, and 'better' services for less cost to residents, and taxpayers. It is a convenient lie: for whose convenience, it is for you, gentle reader, to judge.

After the sell off of so many council functions to Crapita, via the One Barnet programme, the new Tory administration has continued marketing our public services, with a degree of desperation bordering on the hysterical, perhaps promoted by the sense of time passing, and the possibility of the end of life of the new regime, sooner rather than later, should the Tories lose their narrow margin of control over the council. 

Make hay, while the sun shines, as the saying goes, or perhaps, more aptly, the (Easycrem Crapitorium) grave's a fine and privatised place, but none, we think, will there embrace, should Labour somehow take over and attempt some sort of adminstration loosely based on the principles of social justice, and all that sort of thing (miracles can happen), rather than one in which the borough is run for the benefit of free enterprise, and the promotion of brillant careers.

Apart from straightforward privatisation, our Tory councillors are set on wreaking more havoc on the borough's remaining public services by cutting budgets, and reorganising the structure of existing provision, all in the name of 'essential' savings. 

Up for the chop now, to the fury of many residents, a number that is about to rapidly increase as the reality of what is planned sinks in, are the borough's much loved libraries, and a number of much needed, high performing nurseries.

Last Tuesday night saw a meeting of the Children's, Education, Libraries and Safeguarding Committee to which reports were to be presented outlining a set of proposals that spell disaster for our library service, and the provision of nursery care for many families in Barnet. More on this subject in the next post, which will include a full report of the meeting itself: here let us remind ourselves of the context of the specific threat to libraries.

There is no other way of putting it: what is planned by your Tory councillors amounts to nothing less than the total destruction of Barnet's library service. 

Barnet libraries provide a service that was once the pride of this borough, and repeatedly assessed by national surveys to be one of the best and most cost effective public library systems in the UK. 

I say was once the pride of the borough, when the Conservative administration included members with some understanding of the value of a public library system, the necessity of a public library system, of the importance of reading, literature, education and information.

Those days are long gone, along with the departure of any old school Tories with some vestige of interest in culture, the arts, or the idea of a library as a refuge and resource for the communities in which they stand: they have been replaced by the gibbering fools sitting on the benches in Hendon Town Hall who see value only in financial terms, and a library as a building surplus to requirements; an asset to be disposed of - a prospective property development.

The money that they now say that they 'must' save from the libraries budget is in fact relatively modest, by Barnet standards: £2.85 million. Compare this sum to the countless millions to be spent this year, for example, on private consultants - literally countless. And yet the amount the Tories want to slash from the libraries budget, from a service that is always  assessed as excellent value for money, represents an astonishing 60% of the entire budget. 

Apart from the money thrown at the  consultants who feast like leeches off this council, and its contractors, and end up being billed to us, the taxpayers - how many millions of pounds in council tax are we wasting on the so poorly scrutinised contracts with Capita, or the parking contract with NSL? 

Because we are, readers, we are: we are giving away shed loads of cash to the shareholders of Crapita simply because our council is handing it over without challenge, even when costs are being hiked up, or performance not reaching an acceptable standard.

Another source of revenue which would easily have prevented, at only a tiny cost to each resident, is via council tax.

Why does the Tory council cut council taxes just before an election -  just before cutting vital respite care for disabled children - rather than making a modest increase that will protect the services which people want, and need?

The looming threat to libraries is there for ideological reasons, rather than on the basis of funding: the money is there, if they want to allocate it. 

They don't: they want to get rid of as many council functions as possible, sit back, continue to rake in all their allowances and watch as the shareholders of a private company  benefit at the expense of the people they have been elected to represent.

But they have miscalculated, yet again, the reaction that they will get from their latest attempt at marketing our public services.

People do want and need their libraries. Even those who do not necessarily use them feel strongly that they should be there for those who need them: the existence of a local library is strongly rooted in the psyche of the middle classes, the normally loyal Tory voters, here in Broken Barnet.

Libraries are not just- as a Barnet officer would put it - 'nice to haves': they provide an essential service, and are central to the life of any civilised society, not just for leisure or the promotion of reading, essential for the development, literacy and education of children, students, older citizens, and for access to IT resources for less advantaged members of society. 

Imagine the impact on a job seeker, living in fear of the loss of benefits, compelled to seek work online, with proof of a minimum of applications necessary to prevent 'sanctions' from target driven job centre staff, with no access to a computer other than a library: where does he go, when the library goes?

Imagine a child in love with reading, whose parents can't afford to buy her books from Amazon, or Waterstones, or the teenager sharing cramped accommodation with siblings, and with nowhere to study: when the library shuts, where do they go?

The elderly residents whose trips to the library give them a sense of connection and welcome break from the isolation of their lives: what about them? 

Well, as a former senior officer once said, sitting in a meeting facilitated by occupier Phoenix, in the former library at Friern Barnet, reclaimed by squatters: libraries should not be places where old people go to keep warm, should they? 

Well - yes, in Mrs Angry's view,  they should. Elderly citizens should feel welcome to go and do just that, and the council should recognise that a library provides more value than you can measure in monetary terms, or statistics, and its worth should not be subject to materialist standards of performance at all.

The earliest confirmation of the direction of Tory policy in regard to libraries became evident before the local elections, when leader Richard Cornelius dared to appropriate the creation of 'community' libraries at Hampstead Garden Suburb and Friern Barnet as Tory 'successes', and a model for the future, the occupation and defiance by squatters and activists who forced the Tories to a humiliating retreat on the closure of the latter, simply airbrushed out of history. Let's revisit that period of history, shall we?

Garden Suburb Library, a tiny vanity venture in an old shop, has always been a white elephant, peeping from behind the shelves of Barnet Libraries. But no Tory administration had ever dared to shut it, simply because it is situated in the heartland of their electoral base, in an area that is hugely wealthy, and supplies enormous amounts of support, financial and otherwise, for their party. 

The highly influential Hampstead Garden Suburb Residents Association is feared and fawned over in equal measures by the Tories as a consequence. Live in a road in the suburb? Want a CPZ? Your wish is their command: the very idea of strangers parking outside your house - such impertinence! Highways officers instructed: CPZ approved and installed in record time. Nothing is too much trouble.

No matter how much support the voters of this inconceivably affluent area generally extends to local Tory policy, however, when it came to their own branch library, of course, the Suburbanistas were up in arms, aiming their protest loud and clear at their elected representatives.

The suggestion of a threat to their darling little library in a shop provoked outrage, and unsurprisingly resulted in a swift resolution, and gushing support, from the council, with funding to match, as long as the retired JPs and headteachers were prepared to take their turns playing librarian. Celeb Suburb resident Jonathan Ross came to open it: marvellous, all so easily arranged,  and no need for the intervention of squatters, and any of that nonsense.

Ah: yes, Friern Barnet library. The People's Library: the library that would not die. Remember this?

Different story in Labour dominated Friern Barnet of course, an area which is populated by ordinary families, many of whom rely on this community resource as an essential part of their lives. They didn't want it closed, but their views were of no interest to Tory councillors. Their views were of no value, is the truth.

Friern Barnet branch was shut, despite the protest from residents, some of whom, as the poster in the picture reminds us, staged a sit in, on the day of closure, to mark their fury at what had been done. 

The building was immediately put on the market: it was soon rumoured that the property was to be sold for development as a mini supermarket, and flats.

Fate intervened, with the arrival of Phoenix and his fellow squatters, who occupied the building, invited local residents and campaigners to come back and reopen the library.

Residents moved in, filled the shelves with donated books, ran workshops, and activitiesand continued to defy the council. The story received so much media interest, from all around the world, that the Tories were forced into an ignominious retreat, agreeing that the People's Library should be allowed to continue, albeit with minimal support from the council, and outside of the borough's library system. 

To claim the credit for what remained from their own actions was preposterous, and even offensive. But it suited their purpose, for what was to come next.

Friern Barnet Community Library continues, bravely: proof of the power of direct action, and a tribute to the residents and activists who fought so determinedly, and continue to give their time to keep the doors open, and the shelves full, despite the uncertain future it inevitably faces.

But let's be clear about one thing. Friern Barnet community library, and Hampstead Garden Suburb Library: they are not public libraries, and worse still, have been used by the cynical Tory leadership of Barnet Council, as predicted by Mrs Angry, to prepare the ground for the devastation of a ground assault on the entire library service, with all the implications for the loss of professional librarianship - and the loss of jobs for a workforce who only two years ago barely survived a cull instigated by the previous Tory administration.

And what was to come next was this: a set of proposals that present a choice of three options from which Barnet residents are asked to choose the way in which their library service will be destoyed. Not asked, of course, if they want their library service destroyed, or given any suggestion that there will be any alternative to the very principle of devastating cuts, closures, downgrading of service, 

You can read the reports submitted to this week's committee meeting here, as well as the public questions and answers. Be warned that the library proposals appear to have been written by a visiting alien from Mars, who has never visited a public library, and apparently barely grasps the concept of literacy:

You may prefer to read the rather more informative report commissioned b

Barnet Unison  from Professor Dexter Whitfield . There you will find a useful explanation as to why, as is always the case with Barnet, an in house option has not been included in the consultation put before members and residents:

The three options for the future of the library service exclude in-house provision. The ‘Community leadership of libraries’ option is in practice an outsourcing option, because only four small libraries will be offered to be community operated, whilst core libraries will be outsourced to a social enterprise or private contractor. 

An in house solution can never be allowed to reach the committee table, of course, because it does not fit the agenda of interested parties - 'stakeholders' in the outcome of any decision in favour of outsourcing - and because Barnet Tories are easily persuaded, by those stakeholders, to support the privatisation of any public service for reasons of their half-baked principles of private = good, public = bad - as well as the always unchallenged promise of 'savings'.

According to the Whitfield analysis:

Case for in-house provision

There are five important reasons why an in-house option should be part of the options
appraisal - long-term future of the library service will be more secure and sustainable; to retain skilled and experienced staff; avoid procurement and transaction costs; maintain the quality of employment such as terms and conditions, pensions, health and safety and to tackle inequalities and social exclusion; investment in the library estate will have to be borne by the Council and will ultimately be cheaper and most effective in-house; and to avoid the risk of contractor and/or market failure.

This report summaries the Tories' proposals of three equally terrible options:

Option 1: 

Maintain the full reach of the existing library network. The existing library network would be maintained, but focused on four ‘core’ libraries – Chipping Barnet, Hendon and two new libraries at Church End and Colindale. Other libraries would reduce in size to about 540 sq.ft. Opening hours would increase by 50% across the network. Libraries would be outsourced to an employee or community owned mutual, community trust or private contractor.

Annual impact compared to current service:

Option 2: 

Maintain the depth and quality of service provision within a consolidated library network. Eight libraries – the four ‘core’ libraries in Option 1 plus East Barnet, Edgware, North Finchley and Golders Green would form a consolidated library network. Full range of activities and staffed for 60% of current opening hours and provide access to 95% of Barnet population within 30 minutes. Libraries would be outsourced to an employee or community owned mutual, community trust or private contractor.

Annual impact compared to current service:

Option 3: 

Community leadership of libraries. East Finchley, Mill Hill, South Friern and Edgware would be offered to be run as community libraries, but reduced in size to approximately 540 sq.ft., as would the Burnt Oak library. The East Barnet and Childs Hill libraries would close. Eight libraries – Hendon, Burnt oak, Chipping Barnet, Church End, Golders Green, Colindale, North Finchley and Osidge would provide the core statutory library network and staffed for 50% of current opening hours. Libraries would be outsourced to an employee or community owned mutual, community trust or private contractor.

Annual impact compared to current service:

In other words: here is our sociopathic Tory council once more holding the lives of our public library services hostage: this time they are prolonging the exquisite torture by asking you which way you want them to kill the service: quickly, with a knife; slowly, by dismemberment, and smothering it with the kindness of strangers, ie volunteers? 

They don't mind, as long as they feel they are in control, rather than you, the residents and taxpayers they pretend to represent.

All the options have one thing in common: a commitment to outsourcing - and of course the use of volunteers.

Very keen on voluntary work, our Tory councillors. Except in their own case as elected members, where instead of performing the role of representatives with a sense of honour and civic duty, they do it for the allowances, and perks, like free parking, and the chance to take turns playing Mayor.

They are also awfully keen now on the idea of using unqualified people in key posts. This might be thought to be because it is cheaper, but it is not clear that argument has worked in the case of the unqualified Monitoring Officer, whom we must assume to have been well rewarded with a six figure salary, despite her apparent lack of suitability for the post. Still, as Tory councillor Finn, said, you don't need legal qualifications for such a job, just 'a clear head'.

This is the new idea, now, on the Tory benches. Degrade the value of qualifications, and hollow out the detail of job descriptions, undermine the professional status of any post, in order to devalue the wage bill, no matter what impact it may have of standards of service.

You don't need nursery teachers, make do with cheaper staff: who's to notice? A three year old? Meh. Can't be much involved in looking after a few stroppy toddlers, can there?  

Librarians? Who needs them? So what that it takes four years to gain the professional qualifications? Just get some old boy at a loose end to come in for a couple of hours to shelve a few books, and tell him to google it if anyone asks for help with research, or finding an out of print edition, or suggesting suitable books for a child with learning difficulties ...

And outsourcing libraries? It was always going to happen, wasn't it, here in Capitaville?

Since Capita moved in, not only has the IT provision to councillors been appalling, with continual failures and interruptions to email services, the computer system in libraries has been constantly in trouble, with residents infuriated by being unable to use the pcs that are supposed to be available in their local branches. This happens so often, branches have laminated notices at the ready, to stick on the library doors to warn users when the system is down. The lack of interest in fixing these persistent IT problems is really quite remarkable and yet ... predictable. 

Yes, it is true that Capita famously walked off with a £16 million handout from residents for investment in IT infrastructure, despite the fact it was supposed to be an 'upfront' capital sum for us, but ... who's counting? 

Me, actually, although no one wanted to listen at the time I raised it. 

Is that money being used as promised? Why are the library computers being allowed to fall into such a state, and upset users? Is it anything to do running a service down to the point where it becomes more acceptable to outsource it, with the promise of lovely new resources, albeit in limited locations? And how many of the present budget cuts  would the £16 million giveaway to Capita have covered? Five times the amount they claim we need to save from the library service, that's for sure.

Let's look more closely at the three options

The Tories and their senior management team think they have been awfully clever, and protected themselves from the worst of the reaction to their iniquitous plot to inflict such widespread, irreparable and yet totally avoidable damage to our precious libraries.

Remember the Highways expenditure, which the council's own report, commissioned from law practice Sharpe Pritchard, was confirmed as diverting more money to wards that were Tory held? The expenditure which saw an astronomical amount of funding inexplicably spent on the most marginal ward, just before the election?

Here they are, now, proposing drastic cuts in library provision which will protect Tory areas from the worst of the impact of their assault, and leave the least advantaged parts of the borough making do with whatever is left over from the carve-up.

Except for Option 3, which has been carefully crafted in order to lure support from what they have always  - until now - perceived as a malleable opposition.

Unfortunately, this perception has been endorsed by an ill worded press release and one or two comments which appear to agree with the Tory plans to create more 'community libraries', using volunteers to keep libraries going, in the face of 'inevitable' cuts: pre-empting, of course, the outcome of any nonsultation by the council with residents over which of the three types of library killing they prefer.

These remarks came as a surprise to the newer, and rather more radically minded Labour members who are pushing the direction of the opposition towards a position of, well - opposing things, rather than agreeing with them - not to mention union representatives desperate to protect the jobs of library staff facing yet again, for the second time in two years, the loss of their livelihoods.

Option 3 offers the prospect of exactly what the Tories hoped Labour would think the lesser of three evils: the encouragement of community libraries, and in this case, in marginal areas, wards where there are significant or increasing numbers of Labour voters, as well as the Labour stronghold ward of East Finchley, represented by Labour leader Alison Moore.

Of course our Tory councillors have overlooked the fact that the Labour group no longer feels it a natural course of action to accept that there is a lesser evil, a less unpalatable option, rather than just a Tory agenda. They do not accept the premise that these 'efficiencies' are necessary in the first place.

The two libraries that would close, in Option 3, would be East Barnet (recently won by Labour) and Childs Hill (one seat held still by the remaining Libdem councillor Jack Cohen). Of the remaining libraries, well: most of these lucky survivors are in Tory wards.

Of all the startling proposals contained within the Tory plans, there is one that is presented with such disarming simplicity that it quite takes away the breath: the suggestion that so many libraries may well be reduced in size, to an oddly exact specification - 540 square feet.

Let us say that again: only 540 square feet: libraries to have a reduction of 93% in size. More details here ...

540 square feet is small. Boy is it small: very, very small: about the same as the ludicrous toy library in Hampstead Garden Suburb, the one in the shop that they always wanted to close, but did not dare, and wanted to close because: it was ... too small

This proposal will create a faux library system, a facade: a theatrical backdrop, with token branches brandishing a few paperbacks a few days of the week, an exercise merely to pay lipservice to the statutory requirement to make a certain level of library provision, without any of the provision that actually is required. 

All the decades of work to make Barnet Libraries the brilliant public library system it was, the careful planning, the years of investment, the evolution of new roles in a changing society, the embrace of income generation, the outreach programmes, community involvement, children's activities and workshops, the already manically edited book stock: all to be thrown away, in another example of our cultural heritage stolen from us, destroyed, or sold to the highest bidder. This proposal is absolutely contemptible.

But there is more - Options 2 and 3 propose something else that is truly appalling: the introduction of opening hours which would not be staffed. 

At all.

Yes, you read that correctly. 

They are seriously suggesting that it would be acceptable for libraries to be open to the public for only 40% or even 50% of their opening hours, not only without any qualified staff available - there would be NO staff available.

And yes, you read that correctly, too. 

This idiotic report suggests that members of the public can attend their unstaffed local libraries, gaining access with a pin number & card, and then use 'self service technology' to help themselves to books. And we are told:

This approach to library opening could be enhanced by a remote voice or video information and advice service allowing interaction with library staff in other libraries. 

Just imagine how enhancing it will be, readers, to find yourself living in Broken Barnet, in 1984, rather than 2014, standing in an empty library, devoid of staff, and books, but blessed with the attentions of a remote voice ... 

But there is more good news:

The technology could be implemented to: 

1. Extend opening hours. 
2. Mitigate a reduction in staffed opening hours. 
3. Move to an entirely unstaffed opening model.

If only we could sack all our Tory councillors, and replace them with virtual technology, moving to an entirely unstaffed council chamber, at least on the Conservative side of the room.  Think of the efficiencies to be had. We might even be able to afford another cut in council tax.

Oh. One drawback, though, in the open library plan. It would be feasible, we hear,

'but some sites would be challenging to enable and would require significant capital investment' ...

Ah. Yes. And of course the ludicrous proposal that libraries can be shrunk by 93% would also cost considerable capital investment to deliver, required in order to alter the buildings and current arrangements. 

Having said that, Barnet's Tory councillors have always been happy to throw good money at any half baked scheme, in order to, erm ... save money, if an ideological argument is there to distract their wandering minds from the absence of any economic gain.
The Unison report raises question after question in response to this gobsmackingly stupid proposal:

• Where does this leave safeguarding children and vulnerable adults?
• What happens if a member of the public is taken ill, collapses, or has an accident?
• What happens if someone is attacked?
• Will the building become a target for theft?
• What happens if there is a suspect bag or package?
• How will quarrels between members of public be resolved and prevented from escalating? (The risk of assault is a real, it is not uncommon for staff to come between people arguing over PCs for example. Such disputes have escalated to assault in other libraries, this risk is increased without staff).
• What happens if there is a flood, fire or electrical problem and the building is not safe?
• What happens if a group of noisy, rowdy people are disturbing other library users?
• Libraries and their staff provide a place of safety for vulnerable people, they will be put at risk in a staff-less building.
• How will fixtures and fittings be protected?
• What is there to prevent people just taking stock without issuing it?
• What happens when computers, printers and photocopiers break down and do not work?
• What happens when the printer or photocopier run out of paper? Or toilet paper and soap?
• How will print release be operated? There will have to be some method of putting charge on reader’s ticket, because a lot of people will not pay for prints without it.
• What happens if heavy rain or snow may make access to the building unsafe, water
logged or slippery?
• How will the supply of copying paper be controlled?
• Public having to use library card and pin number to get access goes against free open access too. Many people cannot remember their pin number so they will not to be able to gain access.

It seems quite incredible that the idea of so called 'open' libraries could be seriously put forward as a proposal, with no proper risk assessement, or equalities impact assessment - but it has.

Only in Tory Barnet could there be conceived a proposal like this, of a public resource stripped down to the barest skeleton, a parody in terms of scale, delivery, stock and resources, finally reaching the logical conclusion - a fully dehumanised environment, bereft of personal contact; a service point with no service, a cut down, cut back, cost cutting library with no librarians, and only a handful of books; no staff, no interaction, no heart, and no soul. 

The perfect option, in short, for a public library system, in Broken Barnet. 

This is all part of the new Britain, determined once more by the rule of privilege, where the new Conservative elite, grandsons of the old Conservative elite, want to keep the feckless poor in their place, and prevent them from getting ideas above their station.

And reading, and education for all represents a threat to that aspiration. 

They don't want us to be able to question their right to rule over us. 

They don't want us to be educated, to think. 

Reading is dangerous: it must be stopped. It has been stopped, in prison, and now the rest of the underclasses must lose their right to self education: it's too risky. Reading might make us think, or make us stronger, and less accepting of the role of compliant wage slaves they want us to perform. 

They don't want us to have access to information, or technology that might help us find a job, if we are unemployed, and retain our right to benefits.

They don't want us to wander into a library, to have a chat with a familiar face behind the counter, and sit down, and read a free newspaper, and keep warm. 

They want us to be denied the benefit of education, and deprived of the joy of reading, and the chance to escape the materialist boundaries of their world, into the world of the imagination. 

We must be humiliated, estranged from our community, alienated from each other, and controlled by them, the culture-averse Tories who know only the value of profit, property and possession.

Here in Broken Barnet, however, we think for ourselves, and are not easily persuaded to fall in line with such a philosophy.

And if anyone knows what the power of resistance and community campaigning can do, it is the people of this borough. 

To do otherwise is unthinkable, in truth: we owe it to the people whose public services are being robbed from them, and given to the profiteering pirates holding us to ransom: we owe it to ourselves, and to our children.

Let's get going, shall we?

On Tuesday evening your councillors will be debating the library plans, as well as the nursery proposals, at a Full Council meeting - Hendon Town Hall, 7pm. You have the right to attend, and if you care about the future of these services, you really should be there; come early to get a seat. 

In the meanwhile, please email your local councillor to let them know what you think of the proposals - and sign this petition - and now this one too:


Anonymous said...

Here is a thought ! To save public money in these times of Austerity , perhaps our councillors & chief officers should show some solidarity with there paying public ! & staff , & it is that they should take an equivalent cut in there pay I.E there is a proposal for a 60% cut to thr Library service so perhaps the councillor who is chair of that committee & the Director should take the same CUT in there wages . What a Bun fight that would be to Behold ?

Anonymous said...

Excellent and perceptive report on the dangers faced by Barnet Libraries from our hooligan Tory councillors.
However I disagree with your choice of using a Labour party petition and would recommend using this fast growing nonpartisan one:
The message will be much more powerful coming from a wider base of residents without political bias.

Mrs Angry said...

I could not agree more with you Anon 14:11 - I think the post of Chief Executive is one we could do without, as other authorities are finding now, and this would make a substantial saving. A cut in allowances is a perfectly reasonable 'efficiency' in this time of austerity, especially as the new commissioning council this bunch of dunderhead Tory members have lumbered us with relieves them of the burden of quite a lot of the 'work' they were supposed to carry out on our behalf, in the good old days pre-Crapita. There is also a very good argument for cutting back on the number of members for each ward, as three is really unnecessary, and many do not pull their weight but leave their duties to their more active colleagues. Performance related pay might be another option, although in some cases, that would mean a number of councillors pitched into state of abject poverty.

Mrs Angry said...

And Anonymous 14.36, I have included a link in the blog to the other petition. I have to say I am slightly disappointed in the wording of both petitions, in that they fail to recognise the threat to jobs for librarians and other employees, which apart from the personal hardship this will cause, will lead to a serious deterioration in standards of service. You cannot replace professional librarians and experienced staff with unqualified posts, or, even worse, well meaning volunteers. If you accept a post as a volunteer in a library in the present climate, you are effectively helping to put someone out of work, and bring about the end of the library service, as we know it, and need it.

Anonymous said...

You are spot on as usual Mrs A . In my opinion the council could come down to as few as 10 Representatives & work very well ! In Regards to the petition ? Has any petition even been Looked at by our Tory masters NO. Why Because they don't care !! We are just Easy money & there to serve not have any say just PAY !