Leader of Lincolnshire County Council Martin Hill, who now regrets signing a petition against his own authority’s proposed cuts to libraries clearly “should have gone to Specsavers”.
Cllr Hill told the Stamford Mercury on Tuesday that if he had known the wording of the petition he would not have signed – despite the following phrase appearing in (to quote Douglas Adams) “large, friendly letters” at the top of the sheet he signed:
“We, the undersigned, call on Lincolnshire County Council to reconsider the plan to withdraw funding which risks closure of Deepings Library”
No-one was less surprised by Cllr Hill’s swift retraction of his support for the petition than the team at Save Lincolnshire Libraries.
After all, not only did Cllr Hill claim live on BBC Radio Lincolnshire that petitions have “limited value” since people sign them without proper consideration of what they’re signing (please don’t judge us all by your standards, Cllr Hill!), he also believes that he and high-profile campaign supporter Minnie Driver are “on the same page” in wishing Lincolnshire libraries to stay open.
Save Lincolnshire Libraries (SLL) strongly rejects that Cllr Hill is “on the same page”, or even on the same bookshelf as its campaigners. We believe that Cllr Hill’s actions are nothing more than a shameful exploitation of the SLL campaign, through the deliberate misrepresentation of its demand for county libraries to remain open.
In the same way as the county council has been utilising its Twitter account to undermine public confidence in the popular support for libraries through the posting of anti-library sentiment in association with details of the consultation process, Cllr Hill’s claims that his council also want all libraries to remain open are pure propaganda.
The model of library for which Save Lincolnshire Libraries is campaigning is one which:
- Is operated by the county council in its existing locations and form, under the council’s legal obligation to “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof” (Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964);
- Is staffed by professional librarians who have the training and experience necessary to effectively support library users in the broad range of needs and challenges which they present.
The model of a volunteer-operated library service which Cllr Hill described to the Lincolnshire Echo is entirely rejected by SLL.
It is misguided, poorly researched, and above all an insult to both existing library staff and to the rate-payers whose goodwill the county council would hungrily exploit to plug the vacuum arising from their own mismanagement of our public services and dereliction of statutory duty.
SLL therefore wish to make one thing abundantly clear: Cllr Hill’s insinuation that our supporters wish to achieve the same ends as the county council is utterly FALSE.
Furthermore, we see it as an open insult to our campaigners and supporters, who have so generously and enthusiastically given their support to the campaigns throughout Lincolnshire, in good faith and with a degree of proper consideration not demonstrated by Cllr Hill’s shallow example in the Deepings.
You can contact Save Lincolnshire Libraries via our website.