Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries are not affiliated to any political party, but are pleased to have received the following messages of support from politicians and public figures from across the county. You can view the responses of sitting Councillors and MPs to letters about the library cuts here.
Cllr Christine Headley – County Council candidate for the Rodborough division, and
Stroud District councillor for Rodborough
While, living in Rodborough, I use Stroud Library, the rest of the division – Amberley, Woodchester and Kings Stanley – is served by the mobile library. Half the stops are near to sheltered housing/pensioners’ bungalows so are ideal for the least mobile, who can ask someone to nip out for a book if they can’t get out themselves. Having volunteers bring library books out to individuals is a hopeless alternative.
Residents who want to go to a static library will be faced with difficulty. Nailsworth Library’s hours are expected to be cut substantially, which would be difficult to co-ordinate with the bus service that passes through Woodchester. Stonehouse Library is similarly threatened. Minchinhampton Library is to be offered to the local community, and would not then benefit
from the current internet arrangement, as it would no longer be part of the County Council system. This would reduce its usefulness to job seekers.
I believe that libraries are a vital resource for the community and am campaigning against these cuts.
I have been a keen library-user since early childhood, and recognise the value of librarians/information professionals. People with extensive knowledge of how to find things out can help you find much better answers than Google can.
David Drew – former MP for Stroud and local campaigner:
I’ve spent much of my life in libraries. At school, at university, researching in the community, and in the library of the House of Commons. Why should what I have taken for granted be denied to others? I urge everyone to join with the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries in demanding that we stop these mad and damaging cuts to the Library Service which is an attack upon the very fabric of our society, and I will do what I can to campaign against them.
Matson and Robinswood Councillors:
We recognise and value the important work done in our community by Matson Library. We fully support the campaign to stop it from closing. Running a good library service is not a job that can be done by amateurs, without resources or even full access to books! We will work with our community to try and maintain a Library in Matson, for Matson.
We believe that the closure of the Library will damage our community and that the County Council’s platitudes are insincere. We support the County-wide campaign to save our libraries.
Cllrs. Kate Haigh, Mary Smith, Jan Lugg (Labour, Gloucester City Council) & Cllr. Steve McHale (Leader of Labour group, Gloucestershire County Council)
Alistair Cameron : Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesman for Tewkesbury
Having looked on your website, I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed cuts to the library service in Gloucestershire.
Many people of all ages place great value on the County’s library service and it will be major step backward to allow them to deteriorate. For school children, students and many people, libraries are a valuable resource which they can use for research and furthering their studies. For older people, they are an opportunity obtain reading material which they would not be able to access if they cannot get to the nearest major library. This will have a real effect on the quality of life of many people.
The loss or significant reduction of so many libraries will have a devastating impact on many of our communities in Gloucestershire. It also seems crazy that the County Council has only recently invested so much money on improving our library service including building new libraries and we are now going to throw much of this away.
I also believe consideration should be given to offering even more services from our excellent local libraries.
Cllr. Phillip Booth – Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward, Green Party
I welcome the letter to the Stroud News and Journal urging a rethink of cuts to the library service (8.12.10). Cuts are inevitable with the Con Dem slashing of Council funding, but a 43% cut to libraries is disproportionate and hugely damaging to communities. Libraries represent only 1.45% of County Council budget, but are used by 250,000 people each month. They will be needed more than ever as other budgets are cut.
Eleven libraries, including Minch and the mobile services are to be closed. Many busy libraries, like Quedgeley despite being in an area of growth, face massive cuts. Seven other libraries including Nailsworth, Wotton and Stonehouse are to be cut to 3 hours staffing a week. If ‘partners’ are not found we will lose these as well. The professional skills of librarians cannot be replaced by volunteers. Many people will be significantly further away from a library. The County cannot argue that this will be a comprehensive library service that they must provide by law.
Cuts will impact on the quality of life and increase social isolation of many. Community activities and storytelling will be lost. The cuts will be doubly hard as day services to older people and people with learning disabilities along with bus services are also cut. Where can people go? Even the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey says, ”A strong library service, based around the needs of local people, can play a key role in our ambitions to build the Big Society by providing safe and inclusive spaces for people to read, learn and access a range of community services.”
We are moving towards an ‘e-society’ yet these cuts remove the ability of those least able to participate. Everything is internet-based: job hunting, homework, registering for housing and even the libraries consultation. Libraries play a vital role in improving access and assisting people to input highly sensitive information. Cuts will also impact on literacy. A child can lose 18 months reading skills in the six week period of the summer holidays if they don’t regularly read. How can parents afford books to improve reading skills and knowledge?
Both the library and the Corporate Strategy consultation are at best confusing. If the aim is to hear what people feel about their libraries and how we can make savings then they fail bitterly. These cuts will directly hit the most vulnerable members of our communities. A rethink is urgently needed if we are not to do permanent damage.