Doncaster legal case won by Mayor
Sore news for library campaigners in Doncaster today when it became clear that the Mayor could decide on libraries policy with 43 councillors voting against him, 6 for and 3 abstaining.  On the face of it, this would seem to be more akin to elected dictatorship than democracy, although it is worth remembering that in May this year, two-thirds of the Doncaster electorate voted to keep their mayoral system.  The council will now go ahead with closing two libraries and finding volunteers to run 12 more or see them close.

  • Doncaster – Library legal battle lost by Carol Buck – BBC. “Carol Buck, from Doncaster, mounted the legal action against English Democrat Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies. In March, he overruled two thirds of councillors who voted for an amendment to allocate funding to the libraries. Dismissing Ms Buck’s challenge at Leeds Combined Courts, Mr Justice Hickinbottom said the mayor and his cabinet acted “properly and lawfully” … “A hearing last week was told Mr Davies and his executive cabinet decided in November to close two libraries, with 12 more to be run entirely by volunteers.”

“Forty-three councillors voted in support of the amendment, with six councillors voting against and three abstaining. But Mr Davies said he was not going to change the budget despite the outcome of the vote.”

  • Campaigners lose judicial review into libraries – Doncaster Free Press.   “Doncaster Council has claimed victory in a judicial review – estimated to have cost ratepayers more than £30,000 – into a decision not to put cash into reopening closed libraries in Carcroft and Denaby. But campaign group Save Doncaster Libaries has defended their decision to support to overturn the authority’s decision, saying that they were fighting for the democratic view.”

“The council won a case against the council ruling that the council does not have power over the council. What is the point of the council then?” Terry Clay comments on lis-pub-libs.

Suffolk transfers to control by Industrial and Provident Society

In a move that is being welcomed by some and feared by others, Suffolk has transferred its entire library service to a mutual society.  As with a Trust, the main advantage of this is that there are tax savings, or more accurately money back from non-domestic rates. In addition, supporters and even the Council itself says that savings will be made by no longer being part of the Council bureaucracy.  All libraries will retain paid staff and generally appear unchanged in all major ways.  However, the amount of money expected to be saved by the transfer – a £2.6m cut – is a tough target.  The Suffolk experiment, for that is what it is, also runs the danger of being used as a model by other councils desperate to save money without closing libraries.  It may be too soon to do this with confidence but these are the toughest of times and many would prefer being a library user in Suffolk than in Doncaster about now.

  • Shona’s message to library customers – Suffolk Libraries.   “From today, your library service will be run by a new organisation- the Suffolk’s Libraries Industrial and Provident Society Limited.  This is our formally registered name.  We will be calling ourselves Suffolk Libraries. We have been created especially to run the library service.  We have exempt charity status and we are an industrial and provident society, run for the benefit of our membership.”

“We are honoured and proud to run Suffolk’s library services and we are committed to ensuring that the services are customer friendly, meet local needs and keep up the high standards.  This includes keeping our expert and friendly paid staff. We will not be closing any libraries and there are no plans to replace paid staff with volunteers.”

“Liz Williams, who campaigned against potential closures, said the library service was being “hollowed out”. She welcomed the news that the libraries, including her local Rosehill Library in Ipswich, would remain open but questioned whether they could survive if they were dependent on community support.”

“Councillor Judy Terry, cabinet member for libraries, said: “The future of all of Suffolk’s libraries is secure. That is something I am immensely proud and pleased to be able to say. “By creating an IPS to take the service forward, we’ve found a way of saving money, opening up new funding opportunities and given community groups a real say in how the service is delivered.”

  • New chapter for Suffolk Libraries – ITV News.  In 2011, “There were fears that cuts in council funding would lead to library closures and some towns in Suffolk, like Leiston, held protest marches to save their library.” … “Suffolk County Council says it has retained its statutory responsibility for library services and will continue to be accountable for ensuring a county-wide network is provided. The county council will also retain sufficient in-house libraries expertise to ensure the council’s legal duties are met.”

Other News

    •  Lewisham: “This borough intended to close five of its 12 libraries. After a vociferous campaign against this policy, the result is 41 per cent of Lewisham’s public library service is now provided by a social enterprise company, a charity and volunteers…. What is known are the issues and visits figures, which are showing a catastrophic downturn.”.
    • Westminster: “The merger of library management across our councils means we are already on track to save £1m through reducing expensive senior back-office posts by nearly two-thirds. These savings behind the scenes mean we can keep our libraries open and retain front-line staff. Our residents will soon be able to access libraries across all three boroughs, expanding their choice to one million books, and we plan to open four new libraries over the next 10 years – reassuring evidence that tightened purse strings can help create new life for public libraries.”
  • Library closures: is that so bad? – Capitalists@Work.   Writer argues libraries are now past their usefulness and the money keeping them open would be better spent donating to people’s kindles.  “If we can’t cut a service that is in long term decline, with falling visitor numbers, that can be relatively easily replaced, redesigned or reformed by technology then what can we cut?”

“you do sound rather like someone who’s had lots of access to libraries and their librarians on your way to not needing a lot of help now.” Comment on article above.


Local News

  • Barnet – Council rejects petition to reopen Friern Barnet Library – Barnet and Whetstone Press.  “On Tuesday, members of the Save Friern Barnet Library group were allowed to present a petition demanding the reopening of the library to the business management overview and scrutiny committee.
    Addressing the councillorsRosie Canning who launched the petition, which has attracted 2,500 signatures attacked council chiefs for refusing to accept the group’s bid to run the library as a volunteer service, as they did Hampstead Garden Suburb Library, in Market Place, which is to be run by the local residents’ association.”
  • Brent – Campaigners gather outside Kensal Rise Library as prospective buyers view the building – Brent and Kilburn Times.  “All Soul’s didn’t really want this building back but they now have to make long term sustainable use of it. They are a charity and have charitable objectives but have to listen to a variety of proposals.”Kensal Rise Library was shut down permanantly last year by Brent Council alogside Cricklewood, Neasden, Preston, Tokyngton and Barham libraries in a move which will save the local authority £1m.”
  • Cornwall – Set to welcome tenders for part privatisation of services – This is Cornwall.  “Yesterday at an extraordinary meeting of the cabinet, Cornwall Council rubber-stamped recommendations to invite private sector bids to share the running of services including libraries, “One-Stop Shops”, IT and payroll.”

“Alex Folkes, deputy leader, pointed to the recent fiasco when the council handed the waste and recycling contract to Cory as evidence the authority did not have the wit to deal with the private sector. He said: “They couldn’t even get that right and it was one contract. What’s being proposed now is massively complex. We are particularly concerned about the future of library and face-to-face services. Cornwall’s Conservative leadership, which considered closing all but nine libraries just over a year ago, now wants a private company to run them as some sort of loss leader.”

  • Denbighshire – £300,000 grant for Prestatyn Library – Journal.  “Denbighshire County Council had its application for £300,000 of funding from the Welsh Government museums, archives and libraries section CyMAL accepted – one of only two projects given maximum funding from the £1.2 million package announced.”
Challenge 2012 at Chesterfield Library.  School pupils are from Deerpark
in Wingerworth.  Picture courtesy of Derbyshire Libraries.
  • Gloucestershire – Libraries legal challenge ends – BBC. “Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries (FOGL) has said it will not challenge the latest proposals to hand over seven libraries to community groups.” … “The campaign has helped save the mobile library service and four libraries.”
  • Harrow – More from Harrow – Stop the privatisation of public libraries.   “With regards to the 2011 cultural services consultation, I am fully aware of the results, but it must be mentioned that 60% of the people who responded ticked ‘they do not use the library service’. The one omission we missed out of the consultation was to include the question, ‘Do you want to keep Libraries open?’…If this question was inserted then I am sure the response would have been 100%, and this is exactly what the Labour administration has always said we would do.”
  • Kirklees – And here’s another bad idea – Huddersfield Daily Examiner.   “Kirklees Council’s chief librarian Carol Stump was addressing concerned residents about the controversial plan to withdraw paid staff from seven village libraries to make room for the mythical Big Society to flourish. With the public consultation still having a few weeks to run she told the public meeting: “There’s not a particular will to take over libraries and run them, but there’s some will to volunteer to help us to run the libraries service. In other words ‘we’ve realised that you’re not going to volunteer to slit your own throats, so we’re putting the knife away”
  • North Somerset – Weston Library offers reduced services – Weston Super Mare People. “Preparations are well under way for the move of Weston-super-Mare’s library into the newly refurbished Town Hall. The new state-of-the-art library will open its doors on October 1 and from August Weston library will convert to a mini library with reduced services.”
  • Wakefield – Closing libraries “shameful” says top celebrity – Yorkshire Evening Post.    “Wakefield Council’s cabinet committee yesterday rubber-stamped proposals to close the 12 libraries – unless voluntary organisations step in to take over running them. The libraries will close before March 2013 unless outside organisations put viable bids together to save them them. The council expects to save around £800,000 a year by off-loading the libraries and plans to plough £1m in to improving services at the 14 libraries it continues to run. 
  • Half of Wakefield’s libraries set to close – Wakefield Express.  “Outwood, Walton, Balne Lane, South Kirkby and South Pontefract libraries look set to close by March next year, as no community groups have come forward with viable business plans.”.  Stock may not be transferred.