15/4/2015 Campaigner and former head teacher Julie Harrison has issued a statement on the latest activities by the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign group: ‘Our position is that we are exploring the possibility of launching further legal action. However we are exploring not only action against the Council but also against the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport who seem blind to the effect of cuts by councils crippled by central government cuts. DCMS’s decision to accept the complaint by Maurice Nauta but then be minded not to set up an enquiry is a disgrace. We are submitting further evidence and considering our options.’
BREAKING – We need you to write to Minister Ed Vaizey / the DCMS by 25th April, here’s why: #WritetoVaizey
BREAKING – Join our all new Facebook page here: Save Lincolnshire Libraries
THE COUNCIL PLAN:
Under the council’s plan (approved by nine members of the council executive 3/3/2015, one member was absent) the number of council-run libraries in Lincolnshire will now drop from 47 to 15, and around 160 library workers will be made redundant. The council is likely to put these libraries out to tender unless they are already in a partnership scheme. All remaining libraries will either be taken over by voluntary groups and turned into “community hubs” or will be replaced by “super-mobile” library, which will visit for a minimum of four hours on a weekday evening or three hours on a Saturday every fortnight. These remaining libraries would not be included in the tender process. Volunteer groups that are chosen to run their library will be given a one-off sum of up to £15,000 for building work or equipment, £5,167 per year for operational costs, and up to 4,000 books. This will only last for four years, after which volunteers will need to raise money themselves. The plan voted through in February 2015 is fundamentally no different to the plan decided upon in December 2013. The original decision was quashed in the high court in July 2014 because of not taking into account the Localism Act (and campaigners feel maybe they still haven’t) and also because of the process of decision making and the flawed consultation.
At no point has the council asked for public consent to the plan which massively reduces this statutory, vital and cherished public service, and takes the high risk route of volunteer libraries to allow around 160 people to be sacked.
“It shall be the duty of every library authority to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereo.” Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964
As these cuts are being planned and executed, Lincolnshire County Council have a £41 million underspend in the bank. The cuts will save them under £2 million. Read more on this here in the Lincolnshire Echo.
The council have also been given two alternative plans that save the required money and keep ALL the libraries open with paid staff. Read about these alternatives here: http://savelincslibraries.org.uk/alternative-plans/
The council exec in Lincolnshire are Conservative / Lib Dem. The Lincolnshire Conservative party manifesto published before the cuts were announced promised that the party will “continue a countywide library network with better access and opening hours.” A press release from Labour in Lincolnshire reveals Lincolnshire Conservatives put off public consultation on their library plan until after the County Council elections in May 2013.
The 2014 and 2015 decisions by the nine members of the council executive have been strongly opposed and undermined in a multitude of ways:
On Wednesday, 26th June 2013, the Community and Public Safety Scrutiny Committee, made up of 11 Lincolnshire county councillors, rejected the council’s proposal for changes to library provision in Lincolnshire. Read more here: Scrutiny committee reject Lincolnshire County Council proposal.
With minimal funding this campaign has generated petitions with over 23,000 names, a protest march 400 strong and a heart-breaking catalogue of 900 comments, handed to David Cameron in book form in April 2014 when we took a coach and Lobbied for Libraries.
There has been opposition from MPs of all parties, internationally acclaimed authors, celebrities and The Library Campaign. These are catalogued in this Facebook album: The Great and the Good. Tory support in particular has its own page on our blog: http://savelincslibraries.org.uk/tory-support/
From the council’s own consultation report: “In terms of the survey response rates, the quantity of completed surveys was high and the volume of qualitative data generated within these was exceptional. In over a decade of research work the analysis team at SHU had not experienced any survey (on any topic) generating such a high volume of qualitative data / written comments. In excess of 21,300 comments (779 A4 pages) were read, coded and analysed.” Source Consultation Final Report
From The Library Campaign’s first-hand account of the high court hearing: “At one point the urbane judge murmured: ‘I’ve never before come across a consultation exercise where everyone who responded said – “Don’t do it!” That was after he had gently enquired whether anyone at all had approved of the plans. ‘No, my lord,’ admitted the county’s hapless barrister. That, it seems, was not considered relevant by Lincs CC.” Source Library Campaign Report from Lincolnshire Judicial Review, and more recently, outraged at the 2015 decision from chair of The Library Campaign: Lincolnshire Library Madness.
The volunteers the council is replying on for this plan are already in crisis. No group is taking on their library willingly and several have already withdraw plans, we’ve collated many community group comments and are seeking more, read here: http://savelincslibraries.org.uk/volunteer-crisis/
From the mouth of David Cameron’s (after the ruling from the high court): “One of the great things in our democracy is that governments have to act under the law and respond to public opinion and pressure – and that’s what is happening in Lincolnshire.” Source Cameron Quotation Lincolnshire Libraries
Elsewhere, other council’s listen. We’ve collated recent cases of council’s in the UK who have responded to public outcry and withdrawn their current library plans here: http://savelincslibraries.org.uk/councils-that-listened/
WHAT DO WE BELIEVE?
Read what we think about the council’s plan here: We Believe
JANUARY 2015 NINE PEOPLE IGNORE 23,000… AGAIN
Read our latest response here:
WHO MADE THIS DECISION? http://savelincslibraries.org.uk/lincolnshire-county-council-executive/
CAMPAIGN TIMELINE: from Summer 2013 onwards: http://savelincslibraries.org.uk/lobby4libraries/
The latest council proposal can be viewed here.
JULY 2014 WIN ON TWO COUNTS IN THE HIGH COURT!
“When this legal challenge was launched we called on Lincolnshire County Council to think again, and seriously re-consider the cuts they had proposed. They ignored my client, dismissed his claims that the consultation was flawed, and ignored the fact that the cuts could be avoided. The Court has listened and ruled that Lincolnshire County Council’s proposals, which would have decimated the library service and cost hundreds of jobs, were wrong as a matter of law.” Paul Heron, Solicitor, Public Interest Lawyers.
Our blog post on the outcome Win on Two Counts!
Blog post from Public Interest Lawyers High Court Quashes Decision
Report from The Library Campaign on the outcome LINCS LIBRARY RESCUE COULD SAVE LIBRARIES NATIONWIDE
Report in Public Libraries News (including links to media coverage): Lincolnshire Council Loses Judicial Review
Download the full judgement here: http://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk//Download/71574
More on our campaign:
Inside the Judicial Review, July 2014. We have two reports from people who were in the high court during the review. Click here our campaigner’s report, and click here for the report of the chair of The Library Campaign.
#Lobby4Libraries – read about our day in Westminster and visit to No 10 Downing Street.
FULL JUDICIAL REVIEW TO GO AHEAD Lincolnshire: Full Judicial Review of Library Service to go ahead The judge did not restrict the grounds of challenge, and therefore the 4 grounds will be considered by the High Court when the case is heard.
LETTER TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE A former Assistant Director at Lincolnshire County Council has written to The Rt. Hon Maria Miller MP, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to formally request that she intervene and order an urgent inquiry into the changes being made by the County Council to the Lincolnshire library service. Update, letter now sent to Sajid Javid, Maria Miller’s replacement.
Click here to read about the day when Helen Goodman MP (Shadow Minister for Libraries) visited campaigners at Ermine Library, 15 April.
Click here to read extensive press coverage of our #BigLibraryMarch in September 2013
The Consultation – Click here to open the full PDF of the consultation report where people completely condemn the council’s plans and their consultation: SHU-Libraries-Consultation-Final-Report-31-October-2013 (2). Click here to read: Our response to the consultation findings
How you can help
The library cuts in Lincolnshire have national implications (read this independent summary here: Lincolnshire Council’s consultation gets into further hot water … and has national implications), so we invite anyone who cares about public libraries in the UK to support us.
Follow us on Twitter @savelincslibs, Tweet your support and we will RT!
If you have more time and a blog, please write a blog post on your support of our campaign and Tweet us the link, again we will share this widely.
You can join our Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-Lincolnshire-Libraries/459730957507765