19 Jan 2012

New Glos library strategy

Poet Marcus Moore: part of the Save Libraries Day 'Flying Authors' tour
This week GCC announced their new library strategy - it is very good news that a public library service will now be retained in Hesters Way, Matson and Tuffley! Congrats indeed to campaigners - a significant victory that is worth celebrating. Without the campaign and the court case these libraries, serving the most deprived communities in Gloucestershire, would have closed completely last year. Of course there are still questions over how 'partnership' will work - this and other issues need to be worked through in the new consultation process.

It is, of course, very disappointing that the plans otherwise look very much - as Friends of Glos Libraries have pointed out - the same as before with some re-branding of the names of library tiers like Express becomes Local and Link becomes Partnership - seven communities are still set to lose their public library service completely and there has been no decision taken yet on the future of the mobiles. There is also lots of paperwork which looks like GCC are trying not to make the mistakes regarding equality issues like last time - campaigners are already looking at those papers. Work needs to be done to see how library closures will impact on vulnerable people and groups identified under equalities law......

GCC plans will in all likelihood get passed by cabinet tomorrow - they may get called in by opposition councillors in which case there will then be a consultation process. Click 'read more' below for the press release sent out by campaigners earlier this week while GCC plans are viewable at: http://www.gloucestershiregov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=107166

Press Release: Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries

Gloucestershire County Council remains determined to make deep and damaging cuts to a library service that is well used with 3 million visits each year, and economic to run costing little more than 1% of the overall budget.

Whilst we are delighted that, thanks to the dedication and determination of library users across the county, we have saved the libraries in the 3 poorest areas of Gloucestershire (Hester’s Way, Matson and Tuffley), we are extremely disappointed that Gloucestershire County Council is still pushing for a two tier system and that 7 communities are still having a metaphorical gun held to their heads and will no longer be funded. The County Council will now have to justify very clearly to these communities the reasons why they still intend to take their county library service away from them.
The new proposals are merely a rebranding of the old plans with some retrospective research to back them up. We were promised “significant changes” but have seen little.

We would like to point out that the county council’s cabinet report and press release which both claim that this is a 25.7% cut in the library service’s budget since 2010-11 completely neglects to add that a similar percentage was also cut in 2010-11.

We object strongly to the statement in the council’s press release that the £1 million saving from the service last year was “back office reductions.”In fact it was almost entirely made up of front line qualified librarians being made redundant and now, apparently, being replaced by volunteers.

We will be scrutinizing the plans very closely, as will the legal team who represented library users in the High Court. We have many questions to ask Gloucestershire County Council about their plans and the practicalities of them. We strongly urge all library users to engage with the consultation process and we will be reminding Gloucestershire County Council that they really must listen this time and respond positively.

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