Cllrs Hawthorne and Nobel’s devastating attacks on our library service are slammed in the national press

In her article without libraries, we will lose a mark of our civilisation journalist Catherine Bennett of The Observer reports on how the Government is turning a blind eye to the closure of 250 (and counting!) libraries nationwide. She particularly focuses on Gloucestershire County Council, naming and shaming Cllr Hawthorne’s extreme plans.

“In Gloucestershire, where a scattered population depends heavily on small libraries, the Conservative leader, Mark Hawthorne, has constructed a model of democratic destruction. Rural taxpayers will lose all seven mobile libraries at the same time that the council, using one ruse or another, condemns a further 18 libraries out of the existing 43; this amounts to 43% cuts in libraries, against a general, council target of 28%. One compensation, the council tells residents, will be a “24/7 virtual library service” – a boon to all the regular users who, like huge numbers nationally, rely on libraries and their staff to get online”

She calls Hawthorne’s plans “an experiment” and they are. His comparison of these plans to the so called “successes in Buckinghamshire” is deceptive and dishonest. Buckinghamshire’s “volunteer” run libraries are still heavily supported by the central library services whereas Hawthorne is abandoning our libraries, many of them in our least affluent areas, to go it entirely alone. There is no precedent for this.

“11 of Gloucestershire’s discarded libraries, one of which attracts 177,000 visits a year, are to be offered to volunteers at peppercorn rents, the suggestion being that if people really care about a library, even in a disadvantaged area, they will run and fund it themselves.”

In response to Hawthorne’s claim that people are “excited” about running their own libraries and working for free to provide a service the council should legally be doing themselves, Catherine Bennett goes on to mention us, the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries, saying

“In another model example of the big society at work, his proposal is furiously opposed by an existing community group, Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries. This is not merely because they want librarians who have been trained to run libraries, a job that involves helping other citizens input highly personal information into computers as well as recommending and ordering books, supporting literacy, hosting community groups, storytelling, helping with homework, dealing with the lonely, needy or difficult individuals who rely on the places in ways that vast chunks of the supposedly squeezed middle, as well as prosperous county councillors, will never know.”

Yes! we could not have put it better ourselves. Get in the real world Hawthorne and Noble and hang your heads. The national press are listening to us, when will you?

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This entry was posted in Councillor Hawthorne, Councillor Noble, Gloucestershire Libraries News, Service Cuts, Support for Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cllrs Hawthorne and Nobel’s devastating attacks on our library service are slammed in the national press

  1. This is Councillor Nobles response.
    Dear Johanna,
    Thank you for the e-mail. I note the content of the article which, incidentally, I had already seen.
    As I said before, it is great that you and others are taking such an interest in Gloucestershire’s libraries.
    I note that you haven’t yet identified where you would prefer the County Council to make the necessary cuts.
    look forward to hearing from you.

    My Response:
    Perhaps now is the time for a break down of town hall wages and we can start there. Maybe find some volunteers to take over a’ la the big society?
    “I note that you haven’t yet identified where you would prefer the County Council to make the necessary cuts.” This is because it is a ridiculous question to ask and is not my job. Anyone with any sense can see that a 43% cut to a service that takes up such a small amount of the councils budget but which serves so many is completely disproportionate and nonsensical. Especially when the you only have to make 28% of saving over four years. Try again councillor Noble, come back with something better than this tired old line because I am not playing this game.

    Whilst you are coming up with a more balanced approach perhaps you could tell us why you are targeting some of the busiest libraries and those in the least affluent areas……..and show us some solid evidence of a successful library elsewhere that has been ENTIRELY abandoned by central services – Bucks Libraries and Woodberry Down library in Hackney are not examples of these and you know it.

    You have not answered any of our questions. 6 senior library staff and national newspapers are condemning your plans as well as us. The arrogance of GCC is astounding. As I said in a previous email I look forward to reading the response to Mr Holland and Co’s letter to Mr Hawthorne.

  2. Martin Large says:

    Councillor Noble could clearly consider that the cost of ignorance is much greater than the cost of knowledge, though again he appears to know the cost of everything and the value of nothing

  3. Lisa Robinson says:

    I have to note my huge appreciation to you, Johanna, for making the points you have in your reply to Councillor Noble. I hope and pray that your points will be taken on board and responded to honestly…am trying hard not to be cynical and I will always hope that your efforts and those of other interested parties will start to have a real impact on this whole sorry business which, in the long term, is not going to make sense if Cuts happen in the manner I suspect is planned. THANK YOU; please don’t ever give up! So many people need you.

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