Consultation Plans a “Complete Sham”

The Following letter was sent to the editors of local newspapers by 6 former senior library staff.

Dear Editor,

It seems to us that the consultation process for the decimation of the county council’s network of libraries is a complete sham.

The proposal is that 23 of our current libraries will be lost and services and opening hours at a further 11 libraries greatly reduced. Only 9 libraries will survive in their present form. These are being called “main libraries”.

Because it is required to do so, the county council has arranged 6 “drop-in” consultation sessions for library users to voice their views. However, every single session is taking place in one of the 9 “main libraries” which are not being cut! So none of the library users from the 34 communities being robbed of its current library service is being directly asked for their opinion! The only presumption can be that the county council does not want to hear their views. It just wants to push through the cuts, ignoring the people of Gloucestershire.

Of course, customers from, for example, Hester’s Way library can attend the consultation meeting at Cheltenham Central library, or customers from Matson library can make their way to Gloucester Central library meeting to make their views known. But, if the county council was not afraid of the views of people at these soon to be disenfranchised communities, the meetings would be held in libraries facing closure or severe reduction in services.

This glib, disrespectful and anti-democratic move simply calls into question once again the proposals of a panic-stricken bully-boy council already ridiculed in the national press.

The county council also has a library consultation survey on its website at

This survey is designed to give the county council the answers it wants to hear. Indeed the summary of the proposed cuts at the beginning fails to mention that every single mobile library service will be completely cut. It’s important, nonetheless, for anyone who disagrees with these proposals to respond to the survey.

There is no precedent anywhere in the UK for the cuts in the library services being proposed by Gloucestershire County Council. The council has a tough task finding 28% savings, but taking 43% of a library budget which has already been reduced by 24% in the last 2 years, is going too far.

Gloucestershire people made 3 million visits to libraries last year, yet the county council’s leaders see libraries as an easy target. They hope that the children and elderly will not find a voice to defend their service. Anyone who knows the importance of children’s literacy, the enrichment of our lives through reading, and the place of libraries as centres of the community,  should do what they can to show them that they are wrong.

If we lose our libraries now, they will be lost forever.

This letter is on behalf of a number of former senior Gloucestershire Library Service staff.

John Holland
Liz Dubber
John Hughes
Gwyn Hiatt
Patrick Baker
Gerald Kidd

In response, council leader  Mr Hawthorne claims in a statement to the Gloucestershire Echo

“So far, we have firmed up six dates at main libraries, as these are easy for people to get to.”The next stage is to sort out further dates within the districts for drop-ins at libraries which could see the service change”

“easy to get to” depends where you are really doesn’t it? So you can expect to be able to voice your concerns at your library soon folks. We will keep you updated.

This entry was posted in Councillor Hawthorne, letters, Service Cuts, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Consultation Plans a “Complete Sham”

  1. Carlin says:

    Dear Johanna
    I have just found “the friends of Gloucestershire libraries”website and am contacting you to let you know that there is no information about these cuts in my local library (Moreton-in-Marsh) or from what I can gather none in other local libraries.
    I visited there on Saturday and in conversation instigated by me with the librarians I was told what was happening, not only is the library services being severely cut back but also the vital service of the mobile library was being totally cut. This provides a vital service for the many local elderly and others in this very rural area who cannot make it to the library and would give an option to people who now will have no library to visit.
    On my visit to the library on Saturday there were 3 other very regular users of the library who were really upset at overhearing my conversation and at the fact there was no information about these cuts at all .
    We were told about the consultation form on the library website which is all well and good for those that have computers but pointless for those that don’t, so it cannot be a true or relevant consultation process. I am very disappointed but should expect no more from the authorities who have no thought for the public. I realise cuts have to be made but this is taking everything not just cutting
    mobile library and library user and childminder, Carlin

    • Thanks to Carlin for bringing this to our attention. Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries has since written to all the local newspapers to inform them of the cuts to our libraries – and they have been reported. We did the first bit for you GCC now you do your job and carry out a proper consultation.

  2. Carlin says:

    A message for Mark Hawthorne
    I have read your pathetic report on what you seem to arrogantly think is a consultation process about the annihilation of the mobile library and cuts of library services in rural Gloucestershire.
    You have all the details of everybody who has a library card so by contacting them and allowing the card holders their say then you could confidently say you have had a full consultation process. Until then all you are doing is an arrogant total sham.
    We are locally losing the mobile library and will have about 3 hrs a week at the local library so the children and elderly will no longer be able to have the simple pleasure of reading and enjoying and encouraging a love of books. So much for encouraging learning and literacy, its pathetic.
    The mobile library could have it rounds less often which would have been a cut not annihilation
    Before you respond by saying cuts have to be made, yes I appreciate that, but no library and no mobile library is ridiculous.
    We have already lost the school bus a vital lifeline which could have been used to go to the library, now that is no more
    Regards, Carlin Anderson

    A message to Jo Hand – Assistant Libraries Chief
    I am emailing to ask what action is going to be taken in regards consultation on these library cuts as a little blue folder in the corner of the library desk is not informing or consulting anyone and the library’s website consultation page is only suitable for people with computers.
    There has been no notification in local papers .
    People who hold library cards should have received written notification as you do hold their information. Also are there going to be drop in consultations in all the library’s affected.
    I would like to know what actions are going to be taken to inform and consult as this is clearly not being done
    Carlin Anderson

  3. Lisa Robinson says:

    I agree with everything that has been said and you simply must realize and acknowledge that MOST members of the public don’t write letters or send emails on websites…but that doesn;t mean they don;t care about this unthinkable abandonment of so many vital resources on which many people actually depened for some quality of life – quite apart from for the books and learning and community aspect of a library. Where did the right to makes such cuts come from? Who ever knew this sort of thing ws in the pipeline? Who actually voted for this extent of dessimation? And as for the sham of a Consultation process, that, too became obvious but how shameful that it was “hidden” behind a cloak of concern and consultation! The public cannot be fooled quite as much as it seems you think. I feel devastated by what is happening to this country and Gloucs. and realise that once these important resources are lost, they will NOT ever return. The “Big Society” is also a sham, I’m afraid. It is totally unrealistic and is attempting to hide behind the mask of “if you want it enough, then create it yourself” – as if Government input, support and encouragement is not necessary, or is somehow “Nanny-ish”. The opposite is the truth. I pray for Local Authority concern and support at these times. And for support from our local representatives too……should we be hopeful? The cuts do NOT have to be so drastic, extreme or rapid. The end result will create huge human, well-being and health costs, in reality.

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