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LETTER PRESENTED TO MINCHINHAMPTON PARISH COUNCIL MEETING – 31/01/11 see ‘Letter to MPC’ page
NEWS ABOUT CHANGE IN CLOSURES FOR SOME LIBRARIES – 31/01/11
The County Council this morning announced a revised proposal for libraries. The information is still filtering out, but this is what we know at present:
- Cinderford Library will now not close, but will open for 3.5 days per week as a Library Express.
- Bishops Cleeve Library will now be open for 6 days per week rather than the proposed 3.5 days.
- Quedgeley, Longlevens, Hucclecote, Charlton Kings and UpHatherley will now open for 5 days rather than the proposed 3.5 days.
- Minchinhampton Library is still earmarked for closure unless the community take it over, along with 9 other Libraries.
- All mobile libraries will still be scrapped.
- Nailsworth, Stonehouse and Churchdown to be Link Libraries, as per original proposal.
The County Council explained this sudden change by saying:
“The money has been found thanks to more council tax being gathered” and “we have listened to what the people of Gloucestershire have told us and we’re acting on what they said” Councillor Antonia Noble.
It’s not clear why these libraries have been reprieved but it’s certainly true that both Cinderford and Bishops Cleeve ran very vocal campaigns against the cuts. Both their Parish Councils strongly opposed the County’s proposals from the start – which has not been the case in Minchinhampton.
STOP PRESS – 30/01/11
Here is the first announcement of a Library Authority going back on its original cuts proposals, not closing some of those proposed to be closed and keeping other libraries open for upto 12 months more than previously proposed in recognition that the time available for communities to draw up and get alternative plans in place was too short.
Quote from the Municipal Journal 27 1 2011 as follows:
“Almost half of the 20 libraries threatened with closure in Somerset could now be saved, according to Somerset CC. And 12 month’s grace has been proposed for a further five threatened libraries to help communities gear up to take them over.
Of 34 libraries, that means just six could be at risk of closure in the current year – as opposed to the 20 first feared.”
MP CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION IN THE GCC LIBRARY PLANS
On the 25th January 2011 at Westminster the Private Members’ debated on the future of library services. Conservative MP for the Cotswolds, Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, called on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to intervene in Gloucestershire’s planning of its new library strategy.
Speaking towards the end of the debate, Mr Clifton-Brown highlighted the severity of cuts in his constituency, and how Gloucestershire is facing not just a reduction from staffed services to volunteer-run libraries, but also the complete loss of the mobile service.
Addressing Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, he said;
“Could I ask his officials to work with Gloucestershire, to make sure that my County Council is given every possible support, because even a volunteer library requires seed-corn to keep it going”.
We are aware that Mr Clifton-Brown’s constituents have been writing to him on this issue, and are pleased that today he has reflected their views by requesting Mr Vaizey’s intervention. This contrasts with the attitude of some Conservative County Councillors, who despite handing petitions against library cuts from their constituents to Councillor Noble, failed to speak up against these proposals in last week’s County Council debate.
We have been in correspondence with Mr Vaizey’s office on this issue, along with former senior Gloucestershire library staff. We believe there are clear grounds for central government intervention in these plans – not least the complete failure to take account of social impacts and the needs of communities.
First posted on the Friends of Gloucestershire web site