6 Jan 2011

10,000 protest Glos library cuts

Well the library petition exceeded all expectations - some 10,600 people signed the petition protesting at the planned cuts to Gloucestershire library service - the petition was handed to Gloucestershire County Council yesterday - but they are still collecting more signatures.

Photo: Randwick woods in November

The petition organised by Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (FOGL) was launched last month in opposition to the council’s proposals to slash the library budget by 43 per cent, which looks set to mean 11 libraries close if no community volunteers step forward to run them. By achieving more than 5,000 signatures, it means the proposed library cuts will have to be debated before final budget decisions are made.
“The support we’ve received has been tremendous.We believe that cutting the already small budget for the library service will not have any meaningful impact on budgets for other services.” FOGL chairman Johanna Anderson
An online version of the petition is available to sign at http://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mgEPetitionDisplay.aspx?ID=8 until the Thursday, February 17. See my letter (for background info) to press before Christmas here. See BBC Points West here. See FoCL report here.

Meanwhile Stroud Against The Cuts are organising a demonstration for Saturday January 29th. This week also saw some local activists campaign in Stroud High Street in particular outside Boots - see here - see also Guardian comment by Monbiot here. He writes: "A recent edition of the BBC's File on 4 found, for instance, that the chemist chain Boots, after relocating to a post office box in Switzerland, has legally cut its tax bill from more than £100m a year to about £14m. That's roughly 3% of its profits."

Is this really just? It is no wonder there is anger when we see cuts hitting vulnerable people.

"We are going backwards as a nation in that councils are increasingly looking to volunteers to run local libraries, or even closing them. Even when Britain was not as wealthy as it was today we made it a priority to afford local libraries. Good libraries change lives and help transform communities. A good library should be accessible with suitable opening hours, well-resourced with materials that are regularly refreshed, and employing knowledgeable staff. They should reach out to local communities, especially those who are unable or unwilling to visit, and provide programmes of activities and events." Brian Strutton, the GMB's national officer for public services.

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