Suffolk Libraries

I have been informed that a Save Suffolk Libraries Petition was handed in to Suffolk County Council this morning. Portfolio Holder Judy Terry was quizzed and said to protestors “you just don’t understand…” I have also been informed that a certain local hard left blogger‘s reply to Judy Terry was “I suppose we’re just stupid.”

I don’t understand either. The petition says something along the lines of “We the undersigned, believe that Suffolk County Council has a duty of care to maintain libraries and keep them under county council control”

How so?

If the petition had said “We the undersigned, believe all should be done to keep libraries open for the good of the community” I would have signed it myself but I can not sign a petition which effectually says “We the undersigned are socialists.”

Ipswich Labour have produced a leaflet with “Save our Library” written in big red capital letters. It asks you to display the top half of the leaflet with “Save our Library” on it in your window. I’ve only seen one of those leaflets displayed in a window in the whole of Ipswich.

The leaflet has pictures of Rosehill Library, Westbourne Library and Dame Bryony in Stoke Library. The leaflet then states the lie that ‘all are scheduled to close under the Tories’ and says that ‘Ipswich Labour have other plans’

As far as I’m aware, there are no libraries scheduled to close.

The Labour leaflet states that “At Ipswich Borough Council’s Budget Meeting, Labour councillors put forward a costed plan to take over the running of Ipswich’s three threatened libraries, and keep them open and run by professional librarians.”

That ‘s not true. They have a plan to use locality budgets to pay library staff but have not put buildings insurance, employers liability insurance, electricity bills, lighting, repair and restocking of books, PC maintenance or anything else into account. I guess that’s what happens when most people in your party are public sector workers with no experience of business..

The leaflet then says that their plan was thrown out because Tory and Liberal councillors voted it down. It was voted down because Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors did the maths. The locality budgets equal £240,000. It would cost IBC £140,000 to run Westbourne library. The plan doesn’t say where the extra money needed to keep open Westbourne, Rosehill and Stoke Hall would come from. But we have a good idea. The leaflet also states that if a Labour Council is elected on 5th May, they would amend the budget and save the libraries without increasing Council Tax. So we know that the money would come from borrowing. Labour always borrow lots of money and leave whoever replaces them with a massive debt. That is why the borough debt is now 18 million when it was over £90 million in the 1990’s The borrowing would eventually lead to higher council tax bills. The reduction of Labours debt is what has enabled Ipswich Borough Council to reduce Council tax by 1%

Mark Bee was right to immediately announce a reprieve for school crossing patrols after his election and now there needs to be a similar announcement regarding libraries. We do not know what significant approaches have been made to Suffolk County Council in regards to the running of libraries recently and if there has been it would be useful if the people of Suffolk were informed. Suffolk County Council also need to clearly state that no libraries will cease to be under direct county control unless or until a suitable alternative arrangement has been found.

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10 Responses to Suffolk Libraries

  1. The actual wording of the petition that most of the 19 000 people signed was:

    “We the undersigned agree that Suffolk County Council have a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service and believe that all 44 Suffolk libraries should be kept open and continue to be funded by and remain the responsibility of Suffolk County Council.”

    This certainly does NOT call upon anyone to be a socialist and many people across all parties (including MP Dan Poulter) have signed it. The petition just calls on Suffolk to fulfil its statutory responsibilities. It does not say the Council have to “control” all libraries but fund them and continue to be responsible for the provision.

    You still have time to sign the petition online if you would like to, please go to:

    More on my blog about the petition wording etc

    And about the handover (including a video)

  2. “We the undersigned agree that Suffolk County Council have a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service and believe that all 44 Suffolk libraries should be kept open and continue to be funded by and remain the responsibility of Suffolk County Council.”

    I don’t see how Suffolk County Council have a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. Also, if some one can fund them for less money without detriment to the service I would support them.

    • Suffolk County Council has a statutory duty under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act:

      “it shall be the duty of every library authority to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof,” s7(1)

      This page on the DCMS website explains the duty (which the Culture Secretary has a duty to superintend) in more detail:

      You may think that there ought not to be such a duty but until parliament change the law they have to just in the same way you and I have to pay our Council Tax even if we would rather not!

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  5. Interestingly I have been informed that SCC could not accept Ipswich Labours proposal that they have based their whole election campaign on, because it would be illegal.

  6. A Ross says:

    illegal? SCC did not even see our proposal as the Tory/Lib dems voted against it

    The Lib dems said it was double taxation, forgetting that IBC runs and apys for the Museum – which is a County responsability

  7. Ipswich Museum couldn’t run without volunteers.

    As locality budgets are for specific localities it would be misusing public funds. I don’t know the ins and outs of the illegality of it.

  8. A Ross says:

    Misusing funds? Tory Cllrs are going to use their locality budgets to save school crossing patrols and give to groups like ‘Friends of westborne’ library- mmm sounds just the smae as what we proposed but without certain Cllrs getting all the praise

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