Photos: from march finishing with the words (sent to me by a protestor) of a song that was sung at the march
Well this blog starts with three items I saw in the news today - they tell a picture of our priorities and the sort of society we are creating. As nearly all the speakers on the march said, there is an alternative - in fact several! Although only Martin Whiteside (pictured) spelled out the need to take account of the actions we need to take re climate change. Anyway also below is the latest on the Stroud library event.
1. More than 11.5 million people (34% of credit card holders) spent January relying on their credit cards to fund day-to-day living costs, according to research by the Post Office. See here.
2. Four of Britain’s largest banks are preparing to unveil combined annual profits of more than £25billion next month. At a time when austerity cuts are just beginning to bite, Barclays, HSBC, Standard Chartered and Lloyds are expected to tell the stock market their annual profits have grown by more than 15 per cent from the £21.5 billion figure they posted a year ago. See here.
3. Neglect levels in Britain's care homes were described as "scandalous" today after it emerged that more than 650 elderly residents have died of dehydration in the past five years. Figures also revealed that 157 vulnerable pensioners died of malnutrition in the same period, while nearly 2,000 passed away from superbugs Clostridium difficile and MRSA. See here.
Save our Local Libraries: Read-In and Speak Out!
“Public Libraries are priceless, Reading is Free, Bliss is a goodWhat: A celebratory protest against Gloucestershire County Council’s
book, and a nice cup of tea!” Jeff Cloves
proposals for the Library Service
Where: Stroud Library, Lansdown
When: 12noon-4pm Saturday 5th February followed by street protest
A variety of authors, illustrators and campaigners will read from both their own books and their favourite books, engage audiences in activities and talk about why they love libraries and why they find Gloucestershire County Council’s proposals for the Library Service unacceptable.
There will also be discussion about the national government’s approach to the financial crisis, in particular about alternatives to massive public spending cuts and privatisation. This will be a family-friendly event - a peaceful protest against the County Council’s plans, which will celebrate public libraries, their value, and their place at the heart of our communities. It is hoped that this event can help to bring together people from all over Stroud and the surrounding area who believe that public libraries are an essential public service that cannot be cut by 43%.
February 5th will see events taking place in libraries across the country to protest against redundancies and service changes in local Library Services, and the closure of libraries. It is estimated that up to 800 public libraries—18% of the UK total—could face closure. At present, almost 400 are already on the chopping block - many councils are yet to report on the future of library services within their jurisdictions. In Stroud, supporters of public libraries are being encouraged to speak about why they love libraries – bringing a book they would not have discovered without public libraries to read from, or perhaps just an anecdote. Local literary celebrities will join campaigner and members of the public.
Celebrity speakers are still being finalised, but so far include children’s author Jamila Gavin, UK best-selling author of contemporary, humorous romances Katie Fforde, writer and one-time Green party Euro-election candidate, Sue Limb, novelist Alice Jolly, and author/illustrator Hannah Shaw. Local poet, writer and campaigner Jeff Cloves will also attend to read the poem quoted above and speak on his experiences of libraries.
“I am a Gloucestershire writer and I am entirely opposed to these library cuts. Libraries are an essential service and are vitally important to local communities. At present, social mobility in this country is at an all time low. Cutting funds for libraries is only going to make that situation worse.” Alice Jolly
“The writer Jorge Luis Borges said, 'I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library.' So what the threatened library closures amount to is Paradise Lost.” Sue Limb
“Once we lose our libraries we won’t get them back. We must act now to save our libraries.” He added that “We are being told that “There is no alternative” to the cuts. This is clearly not true - tackling tax avoidance and evasion is just one of many alternative solutions to the financial mess the banks have left us in. These cuts are ideological and their effects will fall hardest on the poorest and most vulnerable. It is simply immoral to be cutting library services while bankers take home inflated bonuses.” James Beecher, a member of Stroud Against the Cuts and organiser of the event
All are welcome, and all events are free. Requests will be made for donations to the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaign, who are co-ordinating February 5th events locally - though this group is not responsible for directly organising the Stroud event. After a well attended library protest during work hours on Monday 24th January, and the well-attended anti-cuts protest march on Saturday 29th, it is hoped that hundreds of people will take part in some way.
12 noon – 1 pm. Introduction to the Friend of Gloucestershire Libraries campaign, and the day’s events. A reading of Philip Pullman’s speech about the libraries (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/jan/27/philip-pullman-defend-libraries-web), followed by an “open-mic”, where anyone is welcome to talk about their experiences of libraries and read from books
1 - 1.20pm Author Alice Jolly will run a session (exact details tbc)
1.20pm – 1.40pm Author Sue Limb will run a session (exact details tbc)
1.40pm - 2 pm Author Katie Fforde will run a session (exact details tbc)
2 – 2.45 pm “Why I Love my Library” creative poster-making session with illustrator Hannah Shaw. For children (and older children!)
2 - 2.45 pm Concurrent session - “Deficit Hysteria and Alternatives to the Cuts” a presentation by local campaigner James Beecher
2.45 - 3.15 Children's author Jamila Gavin will run a session (exact details tbc)
3.15 - 4pm Discussion on how to take the celebration/protest to the streets following the meeting.
4pm Rally outside Stroud Library, followed by street protest as agreed on in the previous discussion (till 5.30pm at the latest).