In our ongoing campaign to shine a light on the death of democracy in Lincolnshire, here are comments from two campaigners who were at the library scrutiny meeting on December 2nd.
From Steve Palmer, Independent Councillor.
Posted on the Save Lincolnshire Libraries Facebook Page
I was very disappointed with the decision of the chairman Cllr Brewis not to allow interaction of anyone else at the meeting on Libraries today 2nd December and in particular the author of the alternative proposal. The two officers were allowed to present again on the official proposal and in that presentation criticise the alternative proposal. Mrs Palmer had to sit through it muted by the chairmans decision unable to answer the attack on her proposal. She would have been able to demonstrate her proposal did cover all the concerns raised and correct errors and assumptions made if this unfair situation had not been forced on the meeting. I would ask where is the fairness in all this. It may well be in the chairmans prerogative to decide who can and who can’t present to the committee but this is not a matter of pennies being debated but millions of pounds, a hundred or so jobs and the future of libraries in Lincolnshire.
Despite this councillor’s challenged the official proposal on the grounds
* It does not meet the budget set in February falling short by £203,712 a year.
* It does not meet the deadline of being fully implemented by May 2014 and because of this delay it will cost the council in the region of £1 million in 2014.
* It does not take note of the consultation that clearly shows that people want a professional library.
* It is at risk of falling foul of volunteers being seen to be taking jobs contrary to recommendations by Government, Volunteer England and the T.U.C. Guidelines. Leaving the council at risk of judicial revue.
* Forwarding untried systems of working that could produce long term sustainability issues particular at the stage where the revenue grant stops at four years and the peppercorn rent also comes to an end.
* Perceived view that communities were been coerced into running, managing and financing Libraries themselves or get an inadequate mobile service.
* If authorities such as parish or district councils take over the running of libraries there is a risk of double taxation allegations if it is funded or part funded by these authorities using public money.
After a total of three hours it came to a vote to put through the motion that the officers recommendations be passed on to executive tomorrow. The vote, very predictable, like the results of the consultation and I thought that could not be beaten for the Simpson’s DOH! Award of the year, went parallel to political lines with the 5 conservative members Cllr. Mrs.Wootten, Cllr Mr. Wootten, Cllr. Oxby, Cllr. Pepper, Cllr. Jones and the chairman Cllr. Brewis who is an Independent but part of the ruling alliance voting for the official proposal and Cllr. Palmer Lincolnshire Independent, Cllr Mrs Reynolds Ukip, Cllr. Jesson Ukip Lincolnshire, Cllr. Clarke, Labour Cllr. Morgan Labour voting against.
So it’s over to the Executive, any takers on a bet on the results of that one, anyone?
Posted on the North Hykeham Library Facebook Page
By Kay Gibson. North Hykeham Campaigner.
Hi all, sorry I have not posted recently. Please don’t think because of this things have dropped off for us because believe me things could not be further from the truth. A lot has been happening in front of and behind the scenes. Today was the final meeting of the scrutiny committee before the final decision tomorrow! As usual a couple of us were there to watch first hand, I would love to sit here and report that the future looks rosy, but it is with a very heavy heart that I have to report that it looks very much as though all our hard work, the voices of our Schools, Children and the other 23,000 people across Lincolnshire who have said that they do not want these proposals to be formalised are going to be ignored. For those of you who are not aware the council to date has spent £96,000 on a consultation process, which to a very large extent they are going to ignore. That’s £96,000 of our money wasted. LCC have proceeded with these cuts under the banner of wanting to save money, yet there own proposal will have a huge shortfall. An alternative proposal has been submitted by Mrs Palmer, a member of the public, who’s proposal meets the required funding cuts, yet …..a) Keeps all tier 1 and 2 opening hours as in LCC original proposal (i.e. 50 + 25)…… b) Retain all static library buildings including tier 3 …..c) Open tier 3 static libraries for the same hours at present up to 20 hours per week employing a paid professional member of staff and supplement with volunteers to work in tandem and / or in addition …..d) North Hykeham and the Deepings library are open for 25 hours per week also employing a professional member of staff supplemented by volunteers to work in tandem and / or addition ….. e) Tier 3 current mobile stops leave as current except where monthly hours exceed 8 hours (max 8 hours) ……f)Tier 4 current mobile stops-leave as current except where normal hours exceed 1 hour (max 1 hour) ……g) Retain 150 of the 286 HLS mobile stops currently under threat by revising the mobile routes. All 30 min stops. Therefore, the total number of mobile stops is 247 out of 383 (i.e.136 lost) ……h) 3 large mobile vans and 4 small to target nursing homes etc ……I) To cover extra costs a charge would need to be made for internet use at 50p per half hour £1 per hour, This is a modest charge and will hopefully be in line with the majority of what people could afford. There is a higher charge for non member users and guest users. Other authorities charge up to £3 an hour for non members and £2 for members……… I know this is not what we would all want in an ideal world but in my personal opinion is a far better proposal than the on we face at the moment…….who is Mrs Palmer, a member of the public….whilst her husband is an LCC Cllr he has had no input into this and this lady has worked pretty much all summer on this in her spare room on a computer, the time and effort that went into making these figures work must have been immense….so LCC must be taking it seriously then as it offer a far better service than their current proposal and saves more money?….sadly not, many of the aspects were criticised today, all of which Mrs Palmer had answers to, she was there to give these, but sadly like the rest of us she had to sit and listen in silence while her plans were ripped to pieces in front of her because the powers that be had decided that she would not be allowed to speak. Why one asks were these plans so fervently set to one side? One of the answers that came back from Cllr Worth was that ‘LCC would still have to pick up the building costs!’ (these have been factored in by Mrs Palmer so I am asking the question why is that a problem) So there it is folks, this is from one of the Cllrs who will make the final decision tomorrow. Here at NHLUG the fight will go on, we have many more avenues to look into, we will continue to support Save Lincolnshire Libraries in the hope to get a better deal for everyone and at the same time will be looking to our own local situation and keep the fight up to get the best deal we can for North Hykeham. Why do we do this? For you, because of your hundreds of letters, phone calls, e-mails, conversations in the playgrounds, on the streets, in the swimming pools, coffee shops and on the bus. For all the hundreds of our children, who signed the petition in schools and stood on the steps of LCC to present them. For our amazing Library staff who cannot use their voice and last but not least for one very simple reason….it’s the right thing to do!