Transcripts of Juile Harrison’s speeches on behalf of Save Lincolnshire Libraries at yesterday’s protest and meeting (27/01/2015)
Libraries are a golden thread that run throughout our lives but they are not a luxury. They provide that window to knowledge, freedom and personal improvement that has been vital to so many and is essential for our children. They are a golden gate towards educational achievement, good jobs and fame and success for so many.
What chance is there going to be for the children of Lincolnshire in the future? What chance for the 1 in 4 children in Lincoln who live in poverty? This need is magnified by those who live in rural isolation and in our county towns.
For huge numbers they are an essential life-line as they do not have the internet access at home that others of us take for granted. Up to 50% of households in deprived areas. How can these people survive as everything is increasingly going online?
People will not be able to access computers to search for work or claim benefits (this includes those who are working hard on low wages) I see children going increasingly hungry and worse in these homes as the scenario is impossible.
For EVERY user group there are powerful arguments as to why the Library service MUST be maintained.
I think of the significant number who signed the petition having suffered through a World War – but will now be denied access to library books.
A free library service is the mark of a civilised society – what does that say about Lincolnshire?
Libraries stand for:
- educational attainment
- re-training a working population
- increased employment
- nothing wrong with facilities for leisure and re-charging batteries.
I could go on and on but there is no need – no right thinking person could propose a death sentence on this vital front line resource!
Thank you to all the volunteers who have come forward. You are invaluable to an enhanced library service BUT you can’t be expected to run it! The voluntary hubs proposed are not sustainable and sufficient funding and resources will not be there to support you.
IT IS NOT NECESSARY – It has been shown that a library service can continue to operate within the proposed budget. GIVE IT A CHANCE.
What is proposed today flies in the face of:
- public opinion
- common sense
- best value
- good financial management – this is OUR money!
There is no valid reason why these county councillors have reverted to their original proposals
The people of Lincolnshire cannot let it happen.
Once our libraries have gone – they are gone for ever
SCRUTINY MEETING SPEECH
As the representative of Save Lincolnshire Libraries I must be crystal clear that this proposal does not meet the needs, requirements or wishes of the people of Lincolnshire.
It is essential that the whole county has an accessible service that is:
- professionally led;
- appropriately funded;
- not dependent upon volunteers ;
- not a post code lottery.
A front line service cannot be effective if people cannot get to it! It can be done.
We have supported the submission from GLL as it is the best opportunity for the delivery of a comprehensive and efficient service. Indeed, it appears that the service could be able to be enhanced and developed under GLL. We must not throw out the baby with the bathwater.
By not thoroughly investigating GLL’s submission to run the full service. (or any other appropriate parties) we are doing exactly that. WHY? The proposition here today is simply not Best Value.
Nor is the voluntary scheme sustainable. This is well known. I quote William Seighart – Author of the recent Independent Library Report (DCMS)
“Some local authorities struggle to know how to deliver – they tend to panic, go for closures or volunteers. That will be a disaster.” He said.
I am a member of your public who, like huge numbers of others, cannot see why the executive are determined to drive this through as a political ideology. Because there is NO advantage. There will only be losses – huge losses.
As a former headteacher, I must stress the adverse effect upon children. The impact upon educational attainment will be serious and incur greater expenditure elsewhere. How can we do this to the 1 in 4 children in Lincoln who live in poverty? The same principle applies to all categories of library users – greater financial expenditure will just be necessary elsewhere.
Many who are not vulnerable will become so. This decision destroys life chances. It decimates the quality of life of the elderly. The proportion of budget we are wasting time and money over is minimal for immense front line benefit.
Lincolnshire County Council can deliver a professionally led, comprehensive and efficient service, across the county ……. without resorting to mass closures……… within the given budget…….. and it should do so!