Multi-million pound businesses Tesco and Sainsbury to benefit from brutal library cuts…at our expense

It has been brought to our attention that Gloucestershire County Council are running “library workshops”as part of the libraries consultation and are paying attendees £40 each in shopping vouchers to be spent at Tesco and Sainsbury as detailed in this invite Invite – workshops BME (this was sent to us by a FoGL member, we have not been notified by GCC, nor have we been asked to circulate the invite. We have no idea who this invite has been sent to). The invite states that the library review is happening due to “limited resources”. We are disgusted that Gloucestershire County Council sees fit to place tax-payers money into the pockets of retail giants like Tesco and Sainsbury when they claim they do not have the money to run basic public services?

It is particularly galling as this consultation is only happening because Gloucestershire County Council made such a monumental mess of the libraries review the first time around. Such a mess that a High Court ruled them to be guilty of “bad government” and a “fundamental breach of the law”. Despite plenty of warnings GCC insisted on leading the tax payers of Gloucestershire into the costly court case. They are now paying a research company £60k of our money to do a new consultation, one that has been roundly criticized, and now they are giving our money to big business – all because they would not listen. We are not against incentives to take part in the consultation but this is thoughtless and excessive. It seems unfair that Tesco and Sainsbury are benefiting from brutal cuts to our much loved library service. How many books would this money have bought? How many wages could it pay?

Gloucestershire County Council continue to make one mistake after another at our expense.

We have asked for further details regarding the format that these “indepth workshops” will take and the questions to be asked in them. We have asked

  • Please can you provide us with the consultation briefing Vector received from Gloucestershire County Council?
  • Please can you tell us how you are selecting groups for the “deliberative workshops”? Who has the invite gone to?
  • Please can you tell us what format the workshops will take. What questions will be asked and how will the workshops be facilitated?
  • Please can you also tell us how you intend to analyze the data you received before people were directed to answer “3.3” to the 10 point scoring questions? (3.3×3 does not equal 10 so this would not have been a natural selection for people to make. Clearly this will skew the data)

For some reason both Vector Research and Gloucestershire County Council have so far failed to respond to or even acknowledge our queries. Have you attended a “workshop”? Please feel free to email your thoughts about the experience at foc.cheltlib@gmail.com

Update : the Vector representative has sent us an email refusing to answer our questions as we are not his “client” (after telling us at the roadshow in Cheltenham that he did not have time to talk to us and advising us to email him with our questions). As tax payers of Gloucestershire who are paying for the services of Vector we would argue that we ARE the clients. We are left wondering at the reason for the lack of transparency regarding the collection of data that will decide the future of our important public service!

Gloucestershire County Council have refused to answer due to “data protection issues”. a spurious reason given that we have requested no personal data and that they need to be at pains to demonstrate they are doing things properly this time. What ARE they afraid of?

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13 Responses to Multi-million pound businesses Tesco and Sainsbury to benefit from brutal library cuts…at our expense

  1. How dare GCC use MY money on this disgraceful exercise? Honestly, you could not make it up! As if the useless consultation were not insulting enough to Glos people/taxpayers. Grrrr.

  2. Jim Bonner says:

    Sister in law got the survey today via her child’s nursery. She only gets one day to reply to it. I’m also told that your reply is valued even if you are not a library user. If you can get a sample that says “Not a library user” you can extrapolate and say many people wouldn’t use the library service, never mind how well funded it is.

    Unfortunately I have been unable to get my hands on a hard copy.

    • Jim Bonner says:

      Another way this survey can be used, with many replies from users of nurseries, is to show that child library services are more valued by respondents that adult/elderly/disabled library services.

      Yet another use of “lies, damn lies and statistics”.

  3. Pingback: Round up | Alan Gibbons’ Blog

  4. Jim Bonner says:

    This is what Vector Research says about it’s extensive experience of helping libraries achieve their potential.

    “Library studies
    Vector has conducted a whole series of studies relating to libraries including: Reactions to relocation plans; Evaluation of a new desktop interface system using Open Source software and utilising task-based interactive exercises; Pre-post advertising campaign surveys.”

    That seems to be the only mention of libraries on their web page except for a survey about ethnic and social diversity for The Libraries, Museums and Archives Council.

    “The Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
    Profile surveys
    Surveys at 40 venues across England to monitor black and minority ethnic and social classification of attendance and use of services.”

    It says that they surveyed 40 venues. There are 37 venues in Gloucestershire.

    Yet again the County Council seems to be short changing the residents in the county.

    • Jim, We have updated the blog post. As you will see, both GCC and Vector are refusing to answer our questions about the workshops for totally spurious reasons. So much for transparency and a fair consultation process! The whole thing is a shame.

      • My sister in law attended the forum yesterday (Wednesday). As you might guess she went for the bribe as opposed to any great feeling about libraries. She was pleased to get her two twenty pound gift vouchers from Tesco.

        She, and the seven other ladies who went with her, were offered free transport to the venue so they wouldn’t be out of pocket. In a group discussion before they went they guessed that the forty pounds was to be shared between them but they were pleasantly surprised that they were to get this amount each.

        I have not, at this time, had a change to find out what was actually discussed at the forum but I will come back and report as soon as I am able.

        PLEASE NOTE THAT MY REPORT MUST ONLY BE TAKEN AS HEARSAY SINCE I HAVE NOT BEEN ABLE TO GAIN ADMITTANCE TO A FORUM MEETING MYSELF.

  5. Do you know who is paying for the vouchers? Are they budgeted by Vector or is GCC paying for them separately?

  6. If Vector are paying for the vouchers and transport then, for them to make any prophet, I would say they can’t survey more than 1000 people from a population of around 600000. Not very representative. How many people actually responded to the survey that was in the libraries and on the GCC website before this farcical cutting exercise went ahead?

    If the first survey, which the council ignored, is more representative of the true feelings of the population then, I feel, the High Court will strike the survey down and The Council will be back at square one and another tranche of Council Tax is being wasted.

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