A follow up post on the meeting set up by Paul Rees (Save Lincolnshire Libraries Campaigner and Head of English at Christ’s Hospital School, Lincoln) with Lincoln MP Karl McCartney. To read the original post please click here.
Further responses from people who put questions to the MP are being added to the end of the post.
Lincolnshire Library Cuts: Discussion with Karl McCartney
Friday 11th April 2014-04-11
Collated questions from those involved in the Parliamentary lobby visit on Tuesday 8th
- Stephen Palmer asks about whether the Lincs CC programme of cuts and expansion of volunteer provided services contravenes the agreement reached by the TUC and the coalition over the deployment of volunteers
I am happy to assist Mr Palmer if he can provide me with further information in respect of the precise nature of this agreement and when it was reached. Please do pass my contact details to him.
- Stephen Palmer also contends that Nick Worth’s predecessor. Eddie Poll, spoke to volunteers of cutting the number of libraries to 15 long before the consultation took place
I was not involved in any such discussion with Eddie Poll and would advise Mr Palmer to ask his County Councillor to make enquiries into this matter.
- William Hussey asks if LCC are aware that Oxfam and the WI argue that the volunteering model is unsustainable for Library provision
I would advise Mr Hussey to ask his County Councillor for assistance with this matter.
- Lindsey Slapp asks for Karl’s help in approaching Eric Pickles about an interdepartmental review of library provision in the light of “…the duty of every library authority to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof…”
Any correspondence in this regard should be addressed to Mr Pickles. I am very happy to be copied in.
- Julie Harrison, former Head Teacher of Chad Varah Primary, asks “How does Karl see the following people being able to access library provision: –
- – families who live on the Ermine, St Giles, Birchwood estates?
- – young isolated unemployed people in rural areas?
- – school children who can currently walk to a library but who are too young to go into the centre of towns or the city independently?
- – secondary school children who need the internet for research but who do not have internet access at home?
- – people in small rural towns who do not have a car?
- – mothers with pre-school children who currently attend story time and activities but who will not be able to post closure.
How does Karl feel he can assist us in our campaign?”
This is pure speculation. I have seen no evidence to suggest that the people Julie Harrison alludes to will not have access to libraries should they wish to. My understanding is that under the Local Authority’s plans, the County is likely to end up with more library provision than we have now.
- Leah Warriner-Wood would like to add people with mental health issues to Julie’s list.
Please see above.
- Ros Jackson asks about whether the cuts in librarians amounts to another bar to women in the workforce
The issue of the future of library services in Lincolnshire is about efficiency and value, not gender.
- Maurice Natau asks:
1. What does Karl feel about the prospect of libraries in some of the most deprived areas of Lincoln and the UK not having a properly staffed and managed library service available within easy reach?
Again, this is pure speculation. My understanding is that under the Local Authority’s plans, the County is likely to end up with more library provision than we have now.
2. What does he think about the fact that, since 2009/10, budgets for libraries across England have been reduced by 30%? I feel it is far more important to ensure that the money is being spent efficiently and effectively. Our own County Council, for instance, are making budget cuts but still expect to end up with more library provision than we have now.
3. Does he feel that the County Council are the right organisation to manage the library service, or would it be better managed at District Council level, where there is a closer relationship with residents and more dialogue? (The County Council’s role could be one of providing support services only.)
I continue to be supportive of CIIr Nick Worth and Lincolnshire County Council’s efforts to ensure our library provision is the best that it can be.
- Angela Montague asks: Does Karl think the amounts of money LCC are willing to contribute to the running of the community hubs is appropriate? (With the initial grant of 15k when LCC are going to charge 11k before vat for one self service machine!)
I feel it is far more important to ensure that the money is being spent efficiently and effectively. Lincolnshire County Council, for instance, are making budget cuts but still expect us to end up with more library provision than we have now.
Does Karl agree that the legality of the leases to the library buildings being set outside the usual legal packages is questionable?
I am not in a position to answer this. Angela Montague may wish to seek legal advice.
Why does the business plan pack seem to actively dissuade groups from hiring professional staff to maintain these services?
Any questions relating to the business plan need to be answered by those who drafted/proposed it.
The rest of the country is watching Lincolnshire on this issue; I am concerned that central government and what was then Maria Miller’s department in particular, have abdicated responsibility on this issue. By declaring it to be a local issue how cuts in budgets should be delivered, it appears that Mr Pickles has sidestepped an opportunity to show some leadership and guidance. Perhaps Sajid Javid would be prepared to conduct an interdepartmental review into library provision so other counties can avoid the mess and embarrassment of a Judicial review? Could such a review look at the possibilities for co-location of services and models of library provision that help communities move forward and better prepare themselves for the future?
Would Karl be prepared to help me word and then put PQs to Sajid Javid and Eric Pickles about searching for ways to lead County Councils to think about avenues of library provision that avoid slashing budgets by a third in one year and leave Lincolnshire’s provision so threadbare?
Responses from Campaigners to Date
(comment via email) from Maurice Nauta
Karl McCartney replies that it is pure speculation that people in some deprived areas of Lincoln will not have access to a properly staffed and professionally managed library services. I cannot understand why he says this, when it is quite plain that the service from all Lincoln’s branch libraries will be run by unpaid volunteers. This cannot be better or even the same as was provided before, when there were paid staff, properly trained and supported by a team of professional staff. He is doing the residents of his constituency no favours by simply believing what he has been told by his henchman at the County Council. He appears to have no understanding about what a library stands for in his communities, nor what it can deliver in terms of education, health improvement, literacy, self-improvement or general well-being. I would speculate that he will not be returned as MP next year.
(comment on this blog) from Lindsey Slapp