The Department of Culture Media and Sport’s ‘Library Team’ has, in a letter dated 13th February 2015, confirmed that a complaint lodged with them by Mr Maurice Nauta on behalf of the Save Lincolnshire Libraries campaign will be proceeded with, in accordance with Section 10 (1) (a) of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964.
The Department’s letter clarifies that they will be writing to Lincolnshire County Council to inform them that a formal complaint from Mr Nauta has been made to the Secretary of State concerning the proposed changes to Lincolnshire’s library service provision. The DCMS ‘Library Team’ further confirms therein that the council will be advised that the matter is being treated as a formal complaint, and that it will request appropriate information and clarification on relevant issues relating to the county council’s duty under the Act to deliver a “comprehensive and efficient” library service.
Notwithstanding Save Lincolnshire Libraries taking its battle to the High Court last year and the judge ruling that Lincolnshire County Council’s decision to re-design its services to save £2m was legally flawed, members of Lincolnshire County Council’s executive have agreed this month to hand over the running of 30 of its 45 libraries to volunteers. At the time of the judicial review outcome (July 2014), speaking on BBC Radio Lincolnshire, Prime Minister David Cameron said in response to the Judgment: “One of the great things in our democracy is that governments have to act under the law and respond to public opinion and pressure – and that’s what is happening in Lincolnshire.”
The county council’s plans have, since they were first mooted, attracted strong public opposition – including a petition of over 23,000 names.
“I am delighted that the Minister has decided to treat my letter as a formal complaint in accordance with Section 10 of the Public Library and Museums Act 1964,” said Mr Nauta, “I have not had chance to discuss this development with any colleagues within the Save Lincolnshire Library Campaign, but when that discussion has taken place, we will give our full response as soon as possible.”
Now retired, Mr Nauta was responsible for running Lincolnshire’s library service from 1988 to 2002’
Original email from Maurice Nauta
Subject: Fao The Rt Hon Ed Vaizey MP, Culture Minister: No change to plans for Lincolnshire Library Service , says Council.
Dear Mr. Vaizey,
Please consider the following as a formal complaint. It concerns Lincolnshire County Council’s latest statement (below) with regard to the proposals for our Library Service and my dissatisfaction with your response to date.
You will recall that I wrote to you in November 2014 about the library service here in Lincolnshire and how, despite a High Court ruling against them, the County Council continued to ignore residents, tax payers and electorate.
In particular, in the last paragraph of that letter, I asked if you were keeping in touch with the Council’s plans for a second consultation, and whether you were watching how they were dealing with a bid from Greenwich Leisure Limited, which would not only keep all libraries open, but would do so without the need for 30 libraries to either close or be run by volunteers; it would provide a high quality library service with paid and professional staff to help deliver the new style library service which the Sieghart Review extols. It would do all this and still make the required savings.
Clearly, you have not been keeping touch at all. Today we have learned what kind of service LCC sees for our future in Lincolnshire. Lo and behold, it is one where communities will have the choice to either have no library or run them with volunteers. It beggars belief, but it is true. Here is their press release:
This does not make good reading for us here in Lincolnshire, but nor does it reflect well upon you and your duties to oversee the library service. I know you are very, very reluctant to intervene, but I suggest that this will become an issue which will not go away. Here is an immediate reaction from our local press:
I am sure this will be the first of many.
The Leader of our Council,, Martin Hill has not responded to public opinion and outcry at all. Furthermore, he has changed the ruling for our County Council to receive and debate petitions in Council, in the very last week before Christmas, hoping ( no doubt)that this change would creep under the radar. Petitions will be received in Council, but each person presenting the petition will be allowed to speak for 5 minutes, regardless of the size of the petition. He also continues to deny that LCC did anything wrong with their management of the first consultation. That is wholly unacceptable.
It is one thing for the Leader of our Council to demonstrate stubbornness or arrogance and ignore residents. It is quite another for you to do so. I refer to a quote from David Cameron when he was asked to comment on the High Court Judicial Review ruling in July last year:
“One of the great things in our democracy is that governments have to act under the law and respond to public opinion and pressure, and that is what is happening in Lincolnshire.”
I despair for democracy in Lincolnshire, but I also despair- in the woeful absence of any interest from yourself – for our library service in Lincolnshire and for future generations who will be unable to grow and develop with the support of an institution that enshrines one of the best examples of public service.
By means of this letter I request that you take action. Or can Martin Hill just do as he wants?
For the latest summary of the campaign, go to our homepage: https://savelincslibraries.org.uk/
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