We have learnt that Councillor Noble, the portfolio holder for libraries, and the person responsible for the ill-thought out, devastating library plans has had her role taken away from her in a “cabinet restructure”.
Why is this we ask? and why are the county council being so quiet about it? We think this is curious timing considering the devastation has yet to be fully implemented. However, we are also surprised this has not happened sooner. “Hard-line” Council Leader Mark Hawthorne reigned her in months ago and has been keeping her in his overbearing shadow since she made some silly mistakes when publicly quizzed about the library plans – such as telling the Liberal Democrats at a council meeting “your amendments would make the library plans as unsustainable as ours“, saying on TV that her legal team had advised her that she was not breaking the law – supposedly important legal advice that she had no written evidence of, telling people at consultations that libraries could charge membership, telling parents worried about the library cuts that they should not worry as there are still school libraries, telling the public that there are successful examples of similar library plans across the country when there actually are none, the list goes on…..
Did she topple or was she pushed? Has the news of the legal challenge finally made it sink in that these plans are unworkable and the council are in a dangerous position?
Councillor Noble has displayed her ignorance about libraries many times over the months. Her plans lacked any regard for the impact that these cuts would have on the most vulnerable, they contravene the public libraries act and are based on a sham consultation – in which the library plans were voted in when the consultation had not even finished. All of this has led to fierce public outcry. Yet the county council continue to fail to admit to their mistakes.
Councillor Noble’s ignorance has led the county council into the courts and an expensive legal challenge. The Council Leader has taken responsibility for libraries away from her. Does he still plan to gamble thousand of pounds of OUR money, money that the council claims it does not have to fund important services, on defending her plans? Probably. Councillor Hawthorne does not like to be told he is wrong. He does not like it when people disagree with him. He claims that budget decisions are HIS decisions to make and it is not for local people, library users (who he likes to conveniently dismiss as pressure groups), or the courts to tell HIM what to do – regardless of whether he is breaking the law and failing to meet his statutory duties or not.
So, Councillor Noble messes up our libraries and slopes off without having the nerve, or the confidence of her colleagues, to see it through. According to the council she will still be “focusing on people who need long-term support”.
New contractor needed!