North East Lincolnshire continue the run of authorities who are announcing that more than half their existing library provision is in danger of being closed or passed to volunteers. Cuts, of varying amounts, have also been announced in Poole, Torbay and Powys.  Meanwhile, things don’t look good for Lincolnshire Council who appear to have had an unpleasant second and final day in the judicial review.  When one of your main arguments is the strength of feeling against your own consultation, you know you’ve got problems. Mind you, if Lincolnshire win after what appears to be a chronically inept consultation and decision-making process, then we’ve all got problems.


National news

  • Allan Ahlberg turns down Amazon-sponsored award – BBC. “In a letter to the Bookseller, he said he felt compelled to decline the honour because of Amazon’s tax arrangements. “Could Booktrust not have found a more moral sponsor?” he wrote. “Tax, fairly applied to us all, is a good thing. It pays for schools, hospitals – libraries!”
  • Library workers join strike action – BookSeller. “Rosie Bartam, a library service advisor in Nottinghamshire will also be striking. She branded the government’s 1% pay rise offer to local government workers “an insult”, and said that in: “the last five years, our pay has lost about 20% of its value – and the cost of living keeps rising.” Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “By starving local councils of the finance they need to deliver vital public services and pay staff a fair wage, the government is missing an opportunity to not only inject money into the economy but to create much-needed full-time jobs.” [Also includes quotes from previous PLN post – Ed.]

“Ian Anstice has the perfect solution: If not satisfied with pay in a job or sector, seek another more congenial to one’s objectives, which in his case is pay.” Deaver Brown, publisher at Simply Magazine.

“Any idiot who thinks that losing the likes of Ian Anstice or Rosie Bartam from the Library Service is a good thing needs his/her head examined. Losing them from the public sector would be an additional disaster. What is this Government thinking? You want them to become entrepreneurs? They are already entrepreneurs – working hard and innovatively in their libraries – for the common good. They and their colleagues are saving society buckets of money every day, by encouraging literacy, education and civic responsibility. Shame on those in the DCMS, the DoE and in No. 10 Downing Street who refuse to value the contribution that professionally-run public libraries make to our Society.” Shirley Burnham

  • My first JR! Two illuminating days in the High Court in London – Library Campaign. “Listening to the to-and-fro showed me as never before how daft this plan is – if you can really call it a plan – and how utterly pig-headed is the county’s attitude. At one point the urbane judge murmured: ‘I’ve never before come across a consultation exercise where everyone who responded said – “Don’t do it!”  That was after he had gently enquired whether anyone at all had approved of the plans.  ’No, my lord,’ admitted the county’s hapless” … “in fact, [did] succeed in making it super-clear that Lincs CC was not willing to consider any alternative to its ruthless closure plan. They had worked on it for ages, she pleaded. They wanted to re-design the service at all costs. It was a ‘political’ decision, she said. The judge, unsurprisingly, didn’t seem to think any of this was relevant” … “Lincs CC had absolutely no intention of even considering any proposals except those from individual communities to run individual libraries.” Observer (Laura Swaffield) suspects there is a good chance of success in at least two of four grounds.
  • NJC pay strike: 10 July updates – Unison. Durham: “Most council buldings are closed, 50% of schools are closed. Libraries, council-run leisure centres, children’s centres, day care centres, Durham Town Hall and the County Record Office, The DLI Museum, Gala Theatre and Locomotion at Shildon will also be closed.”. Newcastle: “Refuse collection services disrupted, street cleansing and grounds maintenance significantly disrupted, all libraries closed to the public. City Library remaining open for staff wishing to attend work.”. Gloucestershire: “Madeleine Kruiniger, a library assistant in South Gloucestershire, was picketing outside Staple Hill library. She said: “I am striking because I think the offer of 1% is derisory. Public sector workers are increasingly undervalued and under paid.”.  North East: “In most North East councils, refuse collections, libraries; job and care centres; museums; pools & leisure centres hit, reports BBC’s Luke Walton. ” [Also mentions previous PLN post – Ed.]
  • Senior officers warn of a looming crisis – Local Government Chronicle (behind paywall). “An overwhelming majority of senior officers believe that the worst of the cuts is still to come, with nearly a fifth anticipating that their council faces a financial crisis in the next year.” … “Staff were even less confident about protecting libraries, with confidence in their protection at -91%.
  • UK arts funding scandalously unequal – Museum Association. “Research by Arts and Business in 2012 revealed that approximately 70% of funding in the whole of the UK for the arts by private donors, corporations, trusts and foundations went to London institutions,” he added.”


Local news by authority

  • Devon – Time running out for ‘Save Axminster Library’ campaign Mid Week Herald. “Campaigners fighting to save Axminster Library are reminding residents that time is running out to have their say. The deadline to complete the county council’s feedback form is next Wednesday (July 17) and the number of responses could be crucial in safeguarding services locally. Jo Hawkins, Chairman of the Support Axminster Library group, is urging all residents to take part in the consultation.” … “Meanwhile there is a pop-up party being arranged at Axminster Library this Saturday (July 12th) from 10am to mark the end of the consultation period and to say thank you for local support. The event is free to all and there will be a chalk drawing competition, refreshments and music.”
  • Lambeth – Fewer bars, better libraries: Evelyn Grace Academy students give their opinions to Future Brixton – Brixton Buzz. “There was strong support for Brixton Library and the Rec. Any politician making Brixton Future plans for these vital local services would do well to listen.”
  • Lincolnshire – High Court challenge to mass closure of Lincolnshire Libraries, day 2  – Medium.com. A collection of tweets from the second day, which appears to have gone badly for the Counci l.
  • North East Lincolnshire – Volunteers could run all libraries except Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Immingham & Waltham if North East Lincolnshire Council accepts proposal – Grimsby Telegraph. “The borough’s library service is facing cuts of £500,000 from its annual £3 million budget. One proposal is to keep the area’s four “core” libraries in Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Immingham and Waltham, and enable local groups to take on other “localised library services”. It is not clear what would happen to the six village and community libraries if no groups step forward.”
  • Poole – Borough of Poole mobile library may close to save money – BBC. “The council has announced it will hold a public consultation on proposals to replace the service with community-led facilities. The move would help towards £100,000 of public library savings it needs to make in the next year. The mobile library service costs £49,000 a year to run and a new vehicle costing £100,000 will soon be required. There has been a decline in customers using the service, according to the local authority, and it now accounts for only 2% of total library use”
  • Powys – Library Service Consultation 2014 – Powys Council. “Because of inflation, demographic changes and increasing demand for our services the council faces a funding shortfall of £20m in 2014/15 and we’ll need to make a further £20m of savings by the end of 2016/17. To put this into context, the council’s revenue budget for 2013/14 was £248m. The great majority of this was spent on our schools and social care. However, we also need to meet the requirements of the Welsh Government’s Welsh Public Library Standards. These two things mean the library service has to change but before councillors on our Cabinet make a decision, we want to give Powys people a chance to share their views and ideas.”
  • Staffordshire – ‘Staffordshire County Council’s Mike Lawrence gave us no assurances on library closures’ – Sentinel. “On July 7, Mike Lawrence, the Conservative county councillor in charge of libraries was asked a straightforward question by Labour leader John Taylor regarding the planned changes to libraries in Newcastle. Councillor Taylor asked, quite simply, what would happen to libraries which failed to meet the objectives of the county council to be run entirely by volunteers. He wanted an assurance that no library unable to find volunteers would close. Councillor Lawrence was unable to give an assurance.”
  • Torbay – Torbay council budget: ‘We’ll fight plan to close Churston library’ – Torquay Herald Express. “As part of £3.8 million budget reductions, Torbay Council proposes to save £105,000 by closing Churston Library, redeveloping the site or handing it to the community to run. A public meeting has been called to fight the proposal during the eight-week consultation period, which started on July 4.” … “The council has proposed offering transitional funding next year to ‘enable an alternative community solution to be explored’. In 2013/14 Churston Library had 1,976 weekly borrowers, was open 34 hours a week and had 55,370 visits.”