Gloucestershire County Council’s “new” library strategy – Our reaction

Gloucestershire County Council today released skeleton details of their new library strategy drawn up after a High Court judge ruled their previous plans to be “bad government” and “unlawful” in November 2011.

Under the re-drawn plans seven libraries still face closure (Bream, Berkeley, Brockworth, Lechlade, Mitcheldean, Minchinhapton and Newnham). Public library services will be withdrawn from these areas, and local communities will be ‘offered the chance’ to run and fund their own library facility as volunteers. These facilities will not be part of the statutory public library network.

The main change from the previous plans, is that three libraries originally slated for closure (Hesters Way, Matson and Tuffley) will now remain open as ‘Partnership Libraries’. In recognition of their catchment areas’ high deprivation rankings, these libraries will be staffed by GCC for 21 hours per week. Any additional opening hours must be staffed by volunteers, and these libraries may be expected to co-locate with other services or voluntary organisations. Eight further libraries (Moreton, Bourton, Nailsworth, Wotton, Stonehouse, Prestbury and Churchdown) will also be Partnership Libraries, staffed by GCC for just 12 hours a week.

‘Local Libraries’ will be open for 5 days a week in Lydney, Tetbury, Fairford, Chipping Campden, Winchcombe, Bishop’s Cleeve, Quedgley, Hucclecote, Longlevens, Up Hatherley, Charlton Kings and Cinderford, while 9 ‘Main Libraries open six days a week will be located in Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud, Dursley, Tewkesbury, Cirencester, Coleford, Newent and Stow.

A decision on the future of the mobile library service (due to be completely closed under the previous proposals) has been postponed until after the consultation process is completed.

These plans represent a 1.8 million reduction to the service (on top of large reductions absorbed in previous years). There has been no change to the stock fund, which has seen a 50% reduction in recent years and is the lowest spend per head of population in any shire county.

Below is the initial reaction to the new cuts plans from Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries. Further details of the library strategy are here

————————————————————————————————————

Gloucestershire County Council remains determined to make deep and damaging cuts to a library service that is well used with 3 million visits each year, and economic to run costing little more than 1% of the overall budget.

Whilst we are delighted that, thanks to the dedication and determination of library users across the county, we have saved the libraries in the 3 poorest areas of Gloucestershire (Hester’s Way, Matson and Tuffley), we are extremely disappointed that Gloucestershire County Council is still pushing for a two tier system and that 7 communities are still having a metaphorical gun held to their heads and will no longer be funded. The County Council will now have to justify very clearly to these communities the reasons why they still intend to take their county library service away from them.

The new proposals are merely a rebranding of the old plans with some retrospective research to back them up. We were promised “significant changes” but have seen little.

We would like to point out that the county council’s cabinet report and press release which both claim that this is a 25.7% cut in the library service’s budget since 2010-11 completely neglects to add that a similar percentage was also cut in 2010-11.

We object strongly to the statement in the council’s press release that the £1 million saving from the service last year was “back office reductions.”In fact it was almost entirely made up of front line qualified librarians being made redundant and now, apparently, being replaced by volunteers.

We will be scrutinizing the plans very closely, as will the legal team who represented library users in the High Court. We have many questions to ask Gloucestershire County Council about their plans and the practicalities of them. We strongly urge all library users to engage with the consultation process and we will be reminding Gloucestershire County Council that they really must listen this time and respond positively.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Gloucestershire County Council’s “new” library strategy – Our reaction

  1. Pingback: Round up | Alan Gibbons’ Blog

  2. Sarah says:

    Well, we felt overjoyed when the news came through that Tuffley Library had been saved, under GCC control,along with Hesters Way and Matson.
    We have fought long and hard to keep the library open at Tuffley, getting several hundred signatures from local residents in an effort to keep the library open. It is not just the loaning of
    books, several clubs use the premises on a regular basis, [knit & natter, computer lessons, family history research, crocheting ect]
    We now have interest from a local surgery [St Lukes] who are looking to re-locate, and we are at the moment in discussons with GCC and the Primary Care Trust as to the possibility of moving onto the site and having a combined health centre, library and community centre.
    BUT, we will not relax, we wait with interest for the next round to see what GCC have up their sleeve.
    Sarah & Graham Howard

    • thanks for leaving a comment. This is really great to read. Well done to all of you who stood up for your library and thank you for your hard work and perseverance. Tuffley Library would be closed by now if you had not been defended so admirably. You are right to be pleased with what has been achieved. It is certainly wise to remain cautious also for the time being. Will you be doing anything on National Libraries Day to celebrate? If so let us know and we will spread the word.
      Johanna

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s