Today this piece appeared on This is Gloucestershire.
Despite fierce opposition from residents Gloucestershire County Council are still forcing on their ill-thought out “community library plans” regardless. They even disgracefully froze Friends of Minchinhampton Library out of negotiations about their own library service (astonishingly due to the fact they were seen to have connections with Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries ).
It seems that the unrealistic expectation for groups to come up with a workable “business plan” for running their own libraries by the end of May 2011 has failed in this case. Running a library and setting out a business plan is not as simple as the council (who really should know about these things) makes out. The library has been given a stay of execution and villagers will have to “possibly pay for it through their Council Tax or a membership fee”. The first is inequitable as they do already pay for their library service in council tax and the second will turn what was a county library into a private reading club, accessible only to those who can afford it.
Two councillors met fierce criticism previously when they suggested that community libraries could charge users. Astonishingly Councillor Noble, who has responsibility for our libraries, was one of these councillors. The Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) who oversee library services nationally were very concerned about this and challenged the head of library services on this issue as reported on our blog post which says
MLA are also concerned that GCC Councillors have advocated the possibility of ‘community libraries’ charging for membership, which they state would mean that these libraries could not be counted towards the council’s provision of a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service as per their statutory duty. An MLA officer asks Sue Laurence directly about this, and she replies;
‘Re the comment made by a Councillor. We think this was made by a Councillor who attended a drop-in session at Minchinhampton Library. He does not have lead responsibility for libraries and think he may have mis-interpreted things’
She is mistaken. This comment was made by Councillor Stan Waddington at the Minchinhampton consultation, but it was also repeated by Councillor Noble (the portfolio holder!) at the consultation session held at Stroud Library!
So which is it?! Yet more misinformation, incompetence, untruths, lack of understanding and confusion.