The following piece has appeared today on This is Gloucestershire:
The first of Gloucestershire’s libraries scheduled for closure as a result of the cuts may have already been shut down. The Homelink mobile service which serves those living in Elderly Peoples Homes has already been taken off the road. A mechanical fault with the library vehicle has prompted library bosses to consider withdrawing the service several weeks in advance of its threatened closure in July. County Council bosses have said that their priority in making cuts was to protect vulnerable people, yet this much treasured service to elderly people living in care may now be the very first to be cut. County Councillors have promised that there would be consultation with library users before any library was closed, but there has been no consultation with the many elderly and vulnerable people who depend on the Homelink library service.
Since the cuts were announced in November 2010, the GCC administration, and in particular Council Leader Mark Hawthorne, have claimed that their decision-making ‘protects the most vulnerable’. Ironic then, that the first of the many library closures to be implemented in Gloucestershire, hurts some of the county’s most vulnerable library users – elderly and disabled people in residential care homes.
Apparently there is a mechanical fault with the mobile library vehicle, and the powers that be care so much about these library users that they’ve decided it’s not worth getting the fault repaired to maintain the service for its final month. I’ve spoken to friends and families of people who use this service, and for many it is a lifeline which improves quality of life enormously. It’s loss, a month earlier than anticipated and with no warning, public announcement or consultation with users (despite GCC’s assurances that this would take place in the instance of ANY service withdrawal) will be a bitter blow.
Still claiming to protect the most vulnerable GCC? Oh, and that ‘no libraries will close’??