Response to Rosehill Readers Letters to Leaders

Rosehill Readers have today sent letters to Suffolk County Councillors and MPs asking them to pause and reconsider their library decisions.
Their letter to Mark Bee, Leader of Suffolk County Council can be read here. Going by correspondence I have had with Abigail Barker on this blog and how she was at the Scrutiny Committee meeting on libraries it was obviously written by somebody else who is a left wing deficit denying idiot.

The letter starts

Dear Councillor Bee,
The Libraries’ Policy / Council / Cabinet Decisions
1) We are part of a network of groups seeking to maintain the quality, integrity and sustainability of Suffolk County Council’s library service. Following our attendance at the SCC Scrutiny Meeting on the 14th June 2011, we would request that you give serious consideration to the points in this letter and would ask you to meet representatives of our group at your earliest convenience and certainly before the Cabinet meeting on the 19th July 2011, to discuss this matter.

As I also attended the SCC Scrutiny Meeting I’m interested in the contents of this letter.

The letter continues

2) It is now five months since the library consultation began and two months since the process closed and there is still no clear SCC policy on the issue.

Actually as The framework for Community Interest Company would be designed to support communities wishing to make bids as well as those who have put in bids already, the consultation obviously hasn’t closed.

The letter continues

3) In addition there are a series of unsatisfactory elements, and deeply worrying concerns associated with the current library policies and processes that need to be examined and considered before any precipitate decisions are taken by yourself or your Council and Cabinet.

This statement is partly true in that there are worrying concerns associated with the current library policies and processes that need to be examined and considered but unfortunately in the following points made in the letter none of the things to worry about within the policy are mentioned.

Their r points of concern are listed below, each followed by a comment by me in regard to it

4.1) The consultation process has been methodologically flawed and could be subject to legal challenge.

It’s the first I’ve heard of this. Please fill me in with the details of the possible legal challenge.

4.2) The consultation process has failed to properly address issues of equalities impact assessment including retrospectively examining the impact upon ethnic minorities.

Was that pasted into the letter from another article because someone liked the sound of it?

Are you saying that certain ethnic groups can’t use libraries that are divested?

The statement is ludicrous.

But it’s followed by another ridiculous statement.

4.3) A significant number of the so-called expressions of interest were submitted on what amounts to a false prospectus i.e. the original closure threats and the original distinction between county and community libraries. Further, the status of mobile libraries remains unclear.

If the libraries are not divested they will close because SCC hasn’t the money to maintain the service at it’s current standard. The library divestment plan is designed to avoid library closures.

4.4) There was some discussion of cost reduction at Scrutiny Committee. It is unclear whether SCC wishes to cut 30% from the budget of each individual library and an additional 30% from the back-office library functions. Or, whether the proposed 30% cost reduction is sought only from individual libraries.

Do you honestly need a meeting to have that question answered?

4.5) The council appears to have failed, from the outset, to fully examine the full range of financial alternatives to raising revenue and reducing costs without divesting the service. This was clearly reflected by comments at the Scrutiny meeting.

If you’ve got a better idea than divestment to save Suffolk libraries then put it on the table. Or are you objections purely ideological?

4.6) The officers of the Council clearly reported to the Scrutiny members that the overall response to the consultation was that: (a) The libraries were highly regarded as they are run now and receive “overwhelming support from the public”
(b) There were virtually no supportive statements in public responses to the county council’s declared policies

Are you saying that the public don’t support keeping them open? Or have you just bought Ipswich Labour’s lie that SCC want to close them.

4.7) At many stages of the consultation process (i.e. meetings, interviews, radio programmes etc) different and contradictory policy statements have been made and commitments given that have not been fulfilled.

They plan to have an overarching Community Interest Company which would be a social enterprise for tax advantages.
The framework would be designed to support communities wishing to make bids as well as those who have put in bids already. The social enterprise will be given a budget and the county council will retain its statutory responsibility.

4.8) The very people who know most about the effective and efficient operation of the library service have not been able to express freely their opinions. This was revealed after a staff manager was invited by the Chair of that Scrutiny Committee to “speak as he saw fit”.

What was said by Library Manager, Theo Clarke was absolutely correct. But the letter is supposed to do with present policy rather than the despicable way that Suffolk library staff were treated.

4.9) With the possible exception of Aldeburgh, the Scrutiny Committee received no clear evidence that the divestment model would work for libraries. This message came forward so strongly, that at one point in the afternoon the Chair asked witnesses, the public and the councillors to “get us out of a hole”.

Well you know the alternative to divestment don’t you?

5) It is still not clear what problem the council is trying to solve. It is our opinion that divestment is not a solution to either a financial problem or a wish to see more local input to library policy and function.

The problem is that the council has a great big hole in its finances because Labour wrecked the economy.

5.1) For these reasons and others we would urge you as the newly elected leader of the council not to rush precipitately into any decision which needlessly threatens the integrity and sustainability of the library service and which could well be the subject of much regret to all in Suffolk in the future.

Suffolk County Council hasn’t got the money to maintain the present level of service. Suffolk County Council hasn’t got the money to maintain the present level of service. Suffolk County Council hasn’t got the money to maintain the present level of service.

You are on the record as saying that the New Strategic Direction is to be changed. Divestment was a key part of that policy, yet we cannot detect any substantive changes in current policies for the library service.

If you’ve got a better idea than divestment to save Suffolk libraries then put it on the table. Or are you objections purely ideological?

Continuing with divestment, would, in our view, lead inevitably to: the fragmentation of the library network; a reduced level of service; a reduced quality of service and the eventual loss of libraries in Suffolk.

This is a valid concern. The brilliant thing about the Suffolk library service is that you can borrow a book from Stowmarket Library and return it to Rosehill library.

Recently the government has “paused” in response to major public and professional opposition to NHS policy.

No, Nick Clegg played the tough guy against the Tories while licking his wounds after a pounding in the council elections.

It is also reconsidered policy on Forestry divestment and on sentencing. This is seen as a mark of a listening government.

That’s it butter them up.

We therefore urge you, most strongly, to consider a pause for reflection in respect of the proposed library policy and we ask for an open meeting with you as council leader, at the first opportunity before the proposed cabinet meeting.

Have you another idea to give him that will stop library closures?

Yours sincerely
Save Suffolk Libraries Network Group : Rosehill

 
 
Out of interest, what is the Save Suffolk Libraries Network attempting to save Suffolk Libraries from, divestment or closure?
 

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