Part of the Labour council’s strategy to secure the closure of half of our libraries, has been to convince us that the cuts have to take place. In fact, they argue that the decision was already taken last year. That isn’t true.
Yesterday, the full council were voting to reduce the Libraries budget by £900,000 by getting rid of 71 full-time posts. Forget the so-called “libraries review”.
These cuts weren’t mentioned anywhere in the proposals supported by cabinet last month.
Last month, the cabinet and its so-called scrutiny committee supposedly looked in detail at the libraries review.
And then they accepted that there is no replacement of paid staff by (750) volunteers. They never queried why those who used libraries the least were the most enthusiastic supporters of the cuts package.
Nor did they seem to be concerned that those most marginalised in this city – the unemployed, the disabled and the minority communities – are amongst those who are most opposed to the cuts.
So who is advising the council on these proposals?
Judging by the council staff who attended the recent scrutiny committee on the library cuts, advice is now provided by a policy and research manager, a solicitor, a regeneration worker and a housing manager.
Not a qualified librarian anywhere. Says it all.