[NOTE: journalists & bloggers are free to use images on this post to report on the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign and library campaigning in general]
On Tuesday (April 8th) a delegation from Save Lincolnshire Libraries (including six children) travelled to London by coach with two objectives in mind. Four and a half hours there, four and a half hours back… but completely worth it.
Firstly, there was a lobby of various MPs, hosted by Nic Dakin MP for Scunthorpe. A number of MPs were invited to meet campaigners in The Peel Room at the Houses of Parliament from 12.30 to 2.30, including party leaders, ministers and their shadows from DCMS and Education. All Lincolnshire MPs and various others were asked to attend. You can follow this link to read the campaigners briefing notes for this lobbying event (summarising the campaign story so far) or just read on to see what happened on the day…
Secondly, six campaigners took a walk from Parliament to 10 Downing Street to appeal to the Prime Minister directly to intervene in Lincolnshire n order to maintain a comprehensive public library service in the county. These six campaigners presented a book of 900 comments at Downing Street called “The Tip of the Iceberg”.
The Long Journey to London
Pictured on the way down to London is #Lobby4Libraries organiser Leslie Hough with the “Tip of the Iceberg” book presented to David Cameron. The comments in the book explain why and how the people of Lincolnshire (and occasionally beyond) use and value their libraries. They are unedited. The majority are from people living in Lincolnshire and from people brought up in the county. They are taken from the online, county wide petition, which has so far gathered 3,000 names. It is just one of many petitions associated with the Save Lincolnshire Libraries Campaign against library cuts: more than 23,000 people have signed various petitions in the last few months. In this respect, these comments represent the “tip of the iceberg”.
Anyone can read these comments here: 900 comments page. Click this link to watch a Vine video we took of the book on the coach.
En route, BBC Radio Lincolnshire’s Scott Dalton interviewed Leslie Hough, and campaigners broke into song. In this interview you can hear one of the key figures behind the library cuts, Cllr Nick Worth, dismiss the 900 NAMES he believed were in the ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ book, when in fact it’s 900 COMMENTS, the tip of the iceberg of 23,000 petition NAMES. Clue’s in the title, Nick. Listen Again here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01x1nk7
Just Keep Walking Towards Big Ben
Into The Peel Room – The Lobby Begins
Maurice Nauta , who was one of the six who later went to No 10 Downing Street, commented: “The lobby was to make sure the case for saving the libraries in Lincolnshire was heard loud and clear in Westminster and would reach the ears of the prime Minister himself. The delivery of the book ‘The Tip of the Iceberg’ referred both to the fact that the 900 + comments about our libraries were just some of the views passed by residents , and also refers to our awareness of the plight of other library services up and down the country.”
Read more about Simon’s Judicial Review here: Judicial Review Go Ahead on All Four Grounds
Rosanne (Rosie) Kirk (Councillor for Birchwood, Lincoln) commented: “Our journey to House of Commons on Tuesday was a great success. Championing the cause of Libraries and how vital they are for communities. We met MPs; we heard wonderful speeches. We felt inspired. And we won’t give up, our fight continues to save our Libraries.”
MPs involvement in the #Lobby4Libraries event
Nic Dakin, MP for Scunthorpe, called the meeting, and his assistant Lawrence Rayner facilitated throughout. A number of MPs were invited to meet in The Peel Room from 12.30 to 2.30 including include, party leaders, ministers and their shadows from DCMS and Education, all Lincolnshire MPs and various others.
- Helen Goodman, Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, attended and gave an inspiring pro-library speech and spoke of the need for a national debate.
- Shadow Local Government Minister Andy Sawford, MP for Corby so a neighbouring MP to Lincolnshire, talked with campaigners and gave a pro-library speech.
- Lyn Brown (Labour MP for West Ham) also gave a speech on the value of libraries.
- John Hayes, MP for South Holland and The Deeping, gave a speech about his opposition to the cuts to Deepings library, how his love of reading began with a mobile library, and the immense respect all MPs have for the House of Commons Library.
- Tom Blenkinsop, Labour MP for Middlesbrough South, attended and spoke with campaigners.
- A representative of North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara met with campaigners.
- Karl Turner MP, for Hull East, attended and spoke with campaigners.
- Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) was out of the country but arranged beforehand for his assistant Andrew Cusack to attend, who spoke at length with campaigner Maurice Nauta. Sir Edward has now made call for intervention into the cuts: MP Protests Library Cuts.
- Mark Simmons (Boston and Skegness) sent his assistant when he was ‘green carded’*.
- Karl Mc Cartney (Lincoln) was invited by Nic Dakin but did not respond directly as far as campaigners are aware. He did tell a constituent who contacted him beforehand that he couldn’t come and offered to meet with him in Lincoln to discuss libraries one-to-one. [update 12/4) We now know Karl McCartney has met with library campaigner Paul Rees (Head of English at Christ’s Hospital School), who presented the MP with questions from many Lincolnshire residents in a hour long session. Mr Rees will be posting feedback from this meeting on this blog.
- Stephen Phillips, MP for Sleaford and N Hykeham, had quite a lengthy meeting outside with some of his constituents, they were still going on when campaigners left the committee room.
- Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle) was invited by Nic Dakin, a constituent wrote to him and emailed him and then ‘green carded’ him during the lobby, but he didn’t respond at all, as far as campaigners are aware.
- Nick Boles (Grantham and Stamford) was invited by Nic Dakin and didn’t respond as far as campaigners are aware, but no-one for his constituency attended either so no one was able to ‘green card’ him.
- Andrew Percy MP for Brigg and Goole responded to the initial invitation with his apologies and said he didn’t think it was appropriate. He is a neighbouring MP, however neighbouring constituents use Lincolnshire libraries.
- Apologies for absence received since the event (so far): Tom Watson, Grahame Morris, Andy Burnham MP for Leigh (Shadow Health Secretary), Luciana Berger MP (Shadow Public Health Minister), Jon Trickett MP.
* A Green Card is a card that you fill in if you want to see your MP at the Palace of Westminster. If you want to visit your MP at the House of Commons you can go through the public entrance of the building and fill out your details on a Green Card in the Central Lobby. The officials in the building will then make every possible attempt to find the MP and ask him or her to meet you in the Central Lobby. If the MP cannot be found a message is left. MPs are not always in Westminster as they have a lot of work to do in their constituencies and elsewhere and it is best to make an appointment in advance.
And onward to No 10 Downing Street
Our #Lobby4Libraries Hashtag reaches 26,600 accounts
And boosting morale all the way – some fantastic Tweets of support, making our #Lobby4Libraries hashtag reach 26,600 Twitter accounts in 48 hours: See PDF: TweetReach Report
Here’s just a sample:
Other coverage to date
BBC Radio Lincs interview en route http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01x1nk7