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