Library users being frozen out of negotiations on the future of their own libraries

Gloucestershire County Council have refused to engage with Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries for months. We have received “I do not intend to respond in detail” replies from Council Leader Mark Hawthorne.  “In light of the forthcoming legal challenge I cannot answer your questions” from library portfolio holder Cllr Noble, despite none of us being the claimant of any legal challenge. Before this she either ignored, questions or sends non-answers from her numerous email accounts. We have had the ex head of the Schools Library Service, who is implementing these plans, telling people worried about the effect the cuts will have on their children that all will be fine as “there are still school libraries“. She should know better!

We have been told we are asking overly specific questions at parish council meetings, been dealt with with contempt when we made our statement after submitting our 15,000 signature strong petition at a full council meeting. We were placed on the agenda AFTER the council voted in the library plans when they had promised to take our comments into consideration – (to this day the council refuse to provide an explanation for this).  ALL of the Conservatives voted in the plans despite fierce opposition from their constituents……..the list goes on.

It was obvious to us that we, the public, were being frozen out of the decisions about our libraries and the county council had no interest in what we thought. The plans were a fait accompli and the duty to carry out a consultation was merely an annoyance to the council who had intention of taking any notice of what people had to say.

Despite all of this though it still came as a surprise when we found out that Cllr Hawthorne was not only blocking us out but that he is blocking out anyone who may have any connection with our campaign group and worse still that some parish councils are colluding with this (see here and here). Could this be because we have been arming people with uncomfortable questions that the council leader has no answers for? Why is he so afraid of us? Is it because his plans are so utterly indefensible that he would rather whisper about them behind closed doors?

Try as you might Mr Hawthorne we are not going away.  In fact this behaviour spurs us on. It confirms we should keep up the pressure. If Cllr Hawthorne and co are running scared then we have been asking the right questions and we will continue to seek the answers.

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

43 Responses to Library users being frozen out of negotiations on the future of their own libraries

  1. Eddie says:

    You might be a little more credible if you showed the other side of the argument, but no doubt this comment will be deleted like all the others that don’t support your point of view.

    My own local library for instance is being manned by volunteers, given a nice grant, a peppercorn rent etc and they are only loosing 3 hours a week. Your council simply soesnt have the money for providing everything for free.

    • Oh there you are Eddie! after months of commentary elsewhere you finally brave our site. Not one single comment has been deleted so get your facts right before you comment please. Unlike the County Council we let everyone have their say and always have. It would just appear that not many others share your views. We have no reason to delete people who don’t support our views as we are will stand by our convictions. We have no need to ignore….again, unlike the county council. What library is that? The plans are not implemented until June so I think you are rather jumping the gun. As explained to you MANY MANY times libraries are not provided “for free” they are paid for in council taxes and they can afford to run them. Perhaps if the council did not freeze local people out of negotiations we may have the “other side of the argument” to present….until then we say it as we see it.

  2. Eddie says:

    You didn’t publish my last comment , so I must assume you deleted it. Occams Razor.
    I do know where the library funding comes from, but my comment remains as valid as ever. The council don’t have an infinite pot of money, so give to you and someone else goes without, and many others share my views, or do you really think I’m unique.

    I’m sure you know I live in Churchdown, and I’m attending a meeting next week to discuss the new arrangements.

    • Which comment? not one has been deleted. I said “not many share your views” and judging by the huge amount of support we have had many do not. I think you are pretty unique but not for your views on libraries. I had no idea where you live Eddie. Why would I? Churchdown is not being manned entirely by volunteers and the plans have not been implemented so I stand by my comments. It is not one of the “community libraries”. I did not say that the council had an “infinite pot of money” our argument as you well know is that the cuts are going too far, are taking services away from the poorest and are ill-thought out. Your comment is not valid – you said “for free” then proceed to admit you know this is not so!

    • What ever you point of view on libraries Eddie the county council have behaved appallingly on this matter which is the point of this post.

    • Ian says:

      “The council don’t have an infinite pot of money, so give to you and someone else goes without.”

      No they won’t.

  3. Eddie says:

    My comment was certainly not published, or I wouldn’t have said so, and I have only commented on my own blog and boards where who and where I am is displayed for all to see.

    Churchdown library WILL be manned by volunteers. Fascinating to know that Churchdown library is not a community Library.

    I, and many others do not agree with your stance. What was “ill thought out” was the last governments insistence on spending money they didn’t have. It had to stop somewhere.

    • I can assure you no comments have been deleted from this site. The fact is many people are in complete agreement with us. I have spoken to thousands of people in Gloucestershire over the last few months and have been overwhelmed by the support we have received. Churchdown being ENTIRELY manned by volunteers and withdrawn from the council services as the “community libraries” are? that is news to me….but is no surprise as these things seem to be being made up as they go along with absolutely no logic. If that is what you want from your library, an amateur service reliant on the good will of others whilst it lasts, whilst paying for a library service you are not receiving but which others are – good luck to Churchdown – it is not a way to maintain an equitable library service and I know many people in Churchdown who have contacted us and agree. I do not look at your blog.

      The plans are ill-thought out – proven by the fact that the council can answer NONE of our questions regarding the practicalities of how it will work. They are flying by the seat of their pants.

    • Ian says:

      “What was “ill thought out” was the last governments insistence on spending money they didn’t have. It had to stop somewhere.”

      Hmm. Interesting. I wonder, what was your alternative to the bank bailout? I’ve never voted Labour in my life but, let’s face it, it was lax banking regulations that led to the problems (something the Tories also approved). Given that debt as a %age of GDP was lower immediately before the banking crisis than in 1997, I’m not really sure where you are coming from.

  4. Eddie says:

    Just spotted your latest. Yes, I do agree that many of our local politicians take no notice of what local people want, but there is nothing new there.

    • It may be nothing new but it does not make it right and does not mean we should put up with it. You said it yourself “what local people want” – what local people want is not this as we have proven

  5. Eddie says:

    “The fact is the majority of people are in complete agreement with us.”

    No it isn’t. You quote 15,000 on your home page, hardly a majority of the people in Gloucestershire. I’m afraid it is you that are flying by the seat of your pants, and ignoring the inconvenient facts. I love this bit

    “if that is what you want from your library, an amateur service reliant on the good will of others whilst it lasts, whilst paying for a library service you are not receiving but which others are – good luck to Churchdown – it is not a way to maintain an equitable library service”

    I roared with laughter, it sounds just like a labour manifesto. Libraries do have a fascinating history. I reccomend looking it up.

    • I know about the history of libraries Eddie – which is why I have formed the opinions I have. They were not seen to be fair and equitable when reliant on good will and philanthropy alone and so were given statutory status. I suggest it is you that need to do some research
      I am not talking just about the petition I am talking about ALL of the support we have had. That was the number gathered over a three week period alone. You “roar with laughter” but have no actual answers…interesting. we are not “ignoring inconvenient facts” but asking the questions to try to get the answers to back up these supposed “facts” – there are NONE

    • the” majority” I was talking about was in relation to the comments on this site and your claim we are deleting comments and thus providing a one sided argument.
      That said there is no denying that the support for libraries and against these cuts has been great. It is the second biggest campaign run in this county and several national politicians and journalists have stated that it is one of the most impressive and biggest campaigns they have seen.

  6. Eddie says:

    Things change Johanna, and so do times. When money is in short supply, I can think of a thousand better things to spend ratepayers money on.

    I certainly do have answers, but they are not the same as yours. I see for example that you are a librarian, so not without a personal interest.

    Show me evidence that a majority agree with you. You can’t

    • Ah, the “you are a librarian” comment comes up again. I have said before, I am an academic Librarian not a public librarian. The cuts make no difference to my job. They are different roles. I am doing this as a public library user. Anyway, why should librarians not have an opinion? what is wrong in experts in the field having a say and asking the questions that need to be considered? In what other profession would that be seen to be a problem? Yes, I am a librarian and as both a qualified librarian and a library user I say these plans are disastrous.
      Eddie, Money supply is short – I cannot think of a time when libraries are more important. They are actually incredibly economical for the value they provide. What a great idea – a public library where resources are shared and people can help themselves back into the job market etc. Show me the evidence the majority do not agree with me – you can’t!

    • Ian says:

      “When money is in short supply…”.

      Good job it isn’t then, otherwise an excellent point.

  7. Ian says:

    It’s rather disappointing that people like Eddie actually believe some of the things that he has written. Frankly, it still amazes me that people who should know better continue to trust politicians. It suggests a breath-taking level of naivety.

  8. Eddie says:

    Do let the council know they have plenty of money Ian. I’m sure they will be grateful

    • Ian says:

      Oh, they know well enough. I’m sure they can put that £800,000 put aside for ‘big society’ projects to much better use by investing in the libraries. And the best news? It means that they won’t have to touch a penny of other budgets to do so. It’s a winner all round.

  9. Eddie says:

    Very naive comments, or just politically aimed. Either way silly imo. The council has a smaller and shrinking pot of money. Spend that on one thing and you haven’t got it for another. I’d rather have the money spent on hospitals and the health service myself

    • Ian says:

      “The council has a smaller and shrinking pot of money. ”

      So why are they keeping back £800,000 then? Seems a little odd if their budget is shrinking doesn’t it?

      And I’m not sure council funds should be spent on hospitals. That should come from central government and the NHS surely?

    • Eddie this post is about the bad behaviour of the county council and the way it is treating people. I am aware of your views of libraries and money as you seem to post the same comments everywhere regardless of the subject of the post. Still I disagree. Libraries provide a lot of preventative support for the health service and indeed many public services. They are all interlinked. by hurting one disproportionately you hurt the others. Is the money being cut from libraries going to a hospital or health service? If it is it will not get them very far – yet to take that money away from libraries will massively weaken them and will have knock on effects.
      So, back to the point of this blog post. To disclude people from a conversation about their local library because their opinions do not suit the county councils agenda is wrong and undemocratic. You claim we delete comments that do not agree with us (which we do not) yet you do not bat an eyelid at the fact that this is exactly what the county council are doing to many people in Gloucestershire and has happened to us throughout – rather you choose to go on your usual rants.

    • Oh, Cllr Hawthorne is that you?? That “politically aimed” comment rings a bell!

  10. Eddie says:

    Ian you seem remarkably ill informed. The council grant is a matter of public record. It is smaller this year and is likely to be smaller next year.

    Johanna, I replied to spurious claims you made, and are still making in your last post. I’ll leave you to rant in your usual way

    • Um, what spurious claims? You were replying to nothing – merely choosing to make points that are irrelevant to this blog post. Points that have been answered numerous times elsewhere and on this blog.

  11. the councils budget has been cut by 28% over the next FOUR years. The libraries budget was cut by 24% over the last 2 years and 36% (was 43%) over the next two years alone. Basic maths will tell you that this attack on libraries is unnecessary and politically motivated. The money saved will not be given to hospitals. The council put £4 million underspend in reserves and has a £800,000 “big society” grant. It is not as short of money as you say. These too are all matters on public record.
    As the letter from Hawthorne states, he will not meet with anyone who questions him. This is information in the public domain. All of the comments featured in this post we have evidence of. If you are going to accuse me of deleting comments and making “spurious” claims at least have something to back it up instead of misinformed nonsense – nonsense that has been discussed already. Yes, go away and rant elsewhere.

  12. Eddie says:

    Caught you. Just seen your tweats. Sorry to disapoint you but I’m not “feckless Eddie” , and I very rarely post on TIG. If I do I use my real name. Assumptions like that are dangerous, and very unfair. You should be more careful about what you post on the net. Ask Bazk, he will confirm

    • “tweets” what do you mean “caught you”? my tweets are not protected and I will say what I like on my personal twitter account. You are one to talk about being careful when you have made comments about my job, my credibility and claiming I have deleted your comments. I totally stand by everything I say.

  13. and regarding Churchdown. It will not be “manned” entirely by volunteers as the “community libraries” are set to be but “The county council will provide staff who will be supplemented with volunteers on a daily basis” There is a difference

  14. Eddie says:

    Dear me. No, I’m sorry ? I did wonder about your initial comments about me, and you obviously, ( from your tweets ) just assumed I was someone else. I’m attending a meeting tomorrow with Churchdown parish ( Yes, I’m one of those people who volunteer my time for nothing that you disparage )

    As for your comments on “basic maths” that is a typical reaction. Clear reasoning is not correct reasoning. It isnt an atack on the libraries, it is ballancing a budget.

    • Oh dear Eddie. what a hypocrite!!! Has there been an apology about the implications you made about me!!?? erm no!
      Yes, a “typical reaction” would be to provide statistics and figures to a conversation about balancing budgets rather than making unsupported comments and it is a perfectly sensible approach. As for “clear reasoning is not correct reasoning” um…..what is then? muddy reasoning, bad maths and unsubstantiated comments? Great! In that case there is not point discussing anything with you.
      It most definitely is an attack on libraries as you can see from the maths. I have no problem with volunteers providing they are supported by trained staff. Which Churchdown will be. In fact, many of our supporters already do volunteer for the library service and are a wonderful asset. I do have a problem with making people redundant so that people can work for nothing. On those factors we disagree and there is no point flogging the issue.
      So this conversation is going nowhere.

  15. Demelza says:

    Hello Eddie,

    You commented on this post accusing us of deleting comments that did not agree with us. Johanna has answered this accusation, but by way of verification I can confirm that we have not deleted any of your comments – indeed I do not believe we have ever received any comments from you before this exchange. Since this site’s inception in August 2010 only two comments received have not been posted. The first was a comment aimed at people who had voted Conservative and blaming them for wrecking public services – we did not include this as it was abusive in tone (as I’m sure you know it is quite normal for blogs/websites to have a comment code of conduct which reserves the right not to publish abusive comments – thankfully however this has only happened once). The second was, I think, submitted in error as it was completely unreadable (random letters). If either of these was from you, then there is your explanation. If not perhaps there was a technical error and your comment wasn’t received.

    You have made your views on libraries and council funding very clear both here and elsewhere. That is your opinion and you are entitled to it, and we will not censor it here. We, in turn, have made our points in support of our view – as we have elsewhere on this blog and in other forums. I think it unlikely that either of us will convince the other of their point of view.

    Those of us running this campaign and this website have full time jobs/studies and are extremely busy (as I’m sure you are too). We do not have time to argue the toss, repeating the same points again and again, when, as I have mentioned, it is clear that neither of us is going to convince the other. Therefore, please do not kid yourself that we have no comeback to your criticisms, or that you have ‘won’ if we do not reply in detail to your every pronouncement from now on. We simply have better, more worthwhile things to do with our time.

    Thank you for taking the time to visit and read the website and for the exchange of opinions.

    Best wishes,
    Demelza

  16. Eddie says:

    My speciality is statistical analysis and I’ve been training people in business for years on that subject, So I don’t need any lectures on math. I see no attack on libraries, I just se a council deciding where to spend their limited budget. If you dont agree on the way they are doing that, then stand as a councillor

    • Oh dear, Well I certainly wont be coming to you for advice and I suggest you keep your belief that it is incorrect to use figures when discussing budgets to yourself and that “clear reasoning is not correct reasoning” if you want anyone else to. As I said, we do not agree and simply flogging the issue is pointless. For many reasons I have no intention in becoming a politician but I will continue to exercise my right to lobby them when I disagree with them and when I feel it appropriate.

  17. Ian says:

    Eddie – you still have not answered my question: why, if the budget is as tight as you say, are the council putting aside £800,000 for Big Society projects? It seems odd if money is that tight that they should do this. I’m interested to know why you think this is justifiable.

  18. Eddie says:

    Sorry Ian, but the “moderator ” here thinks it is amusing to take out of context bits from here on her twitter account. Insults, bad manners and political claptrap are things I will leave to her

    • Eddie, My personal twitter account has nothing to do with this nor does it have anything to do with Ian’s question. I can post what I want there just as you can on your personal blog and any other forums where you have never been shy of criticizing us and disregarding any of the points we have made. I have never made a fuss about that but got on with doing what I think is right. This campaign. If you cannot take it do not dish it out. You come here and resort to “bad manners and insults” yourself when unable to defend your position. In fact you started off by being pretty insulting and confrontational in your very first comment so I do not understand why you appear to be feeling so sensitive suddenly – nor am I convinced by it. I can assure you I do not find this in the least bit amusing. Bizarre how you consider your views to be valid and those who disagree with you as “political clap trap” or “spurious claims”. Another reason why there is little point in pursuing a conversation with you.

    • Ian says:

      I’m sorry but I cannot take you seriously. On the one hand you say there is no money but you refuse to condemn the Big Society funding. This clearly marks you out as someone who belongs on the fringes of any serious discussion.

  19. trollhunterx says:

    ‘You might be a little more credible if you showed the other side of the argument, but no doubt this comment will be deleted like all the others that don’t support your point of view.’

    Occam’s Razor is one thing, Eddie, but ‘all the others’ is an unwarranted assumption. Just because you are certain your own contribution made it successfully to this blog, and must therefore have been nobbled, you conclude that others must also have been censored?

    And don’t assume that politicians never mislead. Remember Sue Oppenheimer? I certainly do…

  20. My antagoniser who features here accusing me of “insults, bad manners and political claptrap”, I am told has now toddled off to specifically start a topic on local message broads, solely to attack me – resorting to …erm…..”insults, bad manners and political clap trap”! Unable to defend his position here he has taken his hypocritical, bullying manner elsewhere.
    To all other posters on this site. We welcome a bit of healthy debate. It is important to think of issues from all sides but we will not stand for this kind of behaviour. If you cannot be pleasant and courteous you will be banned.
    Anyway, it is worth remembering that while there are inevitably those who disagree with us, there are at least 15,000 supporters of our library campaign 😀

  21. Alistair Fisher says:

    poor misimformed Eddie.
    I do really think your talking through your back side and donthave a clue what your taking about, what about the 180 resedentual homes that 5 mobile librarys went to are you going to drive round them and help the poorpeople who are in homes. I dontthink so you are talking rubbish, and for librarys being run by volunteers am 100% you have this wrong as the GCC still are tryingt o sort it allout, ther eis 4.6 million being saved for a rainy day and to give them selves a all a rise as for librarians who are trained people, they are just told forget it. it is the same through life, I hope that if your not in a job and you think your job is safe think again. you need to visit these people like Johanna and Demelza and librarys and seehow much they do gfotthe elderly through tothe baby bounce clubs where all are important, Librarys are not handing out books with a smile they are hard work, in todays worlsd a librarian has to be a computer expert to help out people a child minder a nurse a thrower out of hooloigans a planner for books of the month, and things for childrent o do in the holidays I am sure this wonderful library you talk of does not do this as it cant as is still run by the council, so get a life and wake up and stop uipetting people,
    alistair

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