On open letter from Lincolnshire libraries campaigner Maurice Nauta to the Secretary of State
Dear Mr. Sajid Javid
You may remember that I wrote to you, soon after you took up office, about the plight of Lincolnshire Library service and the impending Judicial Review, which declared Lincolnshire County Council’s decisions made in December 2013 null and void.
This time I am writing about the situation nationally, as it seems incredible to me that your minister, Ed Vaizey, has told Sheffield City Council that he is “not minded” to use his powers to intervene there. This at a time when we are all awaiting the outcome of the Sieghart Review into the future of public libraries, surely an opportunity for a “cease fire”. Please do not reply that these are local decisions to be taken by local councillors, because it is plain from our experience that they do not always listen to their residents and tax payers, to the point of making illegal decisions despite being warned that that was so.
Mr. Vaizey was quoted as saying to his predecessor in March 2009, “Andy Burnham’s refusal to take action in the Wirral effectively renders the 1964 Public Libraries Act meaningless. While it is local authorities’ responsibility to provide libraries, the Act very clearly lays the responsibility for ensuring a good library service at the culture secretary’s door.” What is different now is that there are so many examples of local authorities cutting back library services without intervention. Otherwise, remove Mr. Burnham’s name and replace it with Mr. Vaizey’s.
I suggest three things:
1. That Mr. Vaizey resigns and/or you replace him with someone capable of action.
2. That you call a halt to the mess that has been created throughout the UK by introducing a “cease fire”.
3. That you consider and release the findings of the Sieghart Review as soon as possible.
Only this way will we be able to retain some semblance of library service able to respond to the needs of communities, as well as support growth of the economy, education strategies, health priorities, social care and cohesion. Do remember that over the years, the library service may not have been a vote winner, but has certainly been a vote loser.
Maurice Nauta was a senior manager in the library service and several other frontline services in the county, from 1988 to 2002.
Read his previous letters to the Sajid Javid and Maria Miller here: https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/lincolnshire-libraries-secretary-of-state-letter/
Read his most recent letter to Ed Vaizey (re Sheffiled libraries) here: https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/2014/09/29/open-letter-to-edvaizey-re-sheffield-and-lincolnshire-libraries/