Archive | November, 2011

“New Strategic Direction” Alive and Well

10 Nov

Press Release:

Bemused and angry library campaigners watched yet another farce unfold before their eyes at the Suffolk County Council Cabinet meeting held on Tuesday 8th November.

The Cabinet continued on its path of divesting the Public Library Service in Suffolk, despite claims to the contrary by Cllr. Judy Terry, who seems intent on turning a loved public service into groups of competing businesses staffed increasingly by volunteers.

The meeting was chaired by the new council leader Mark Bee, who supposedly, has overseen a change of emphasis and direction, since the departure of Cllr. Jeremy Pembroke and CEO Andrea Hill.

There is nothing in the latest council decisions that either Mr Pembroke or Ms Hill would take issue with; in our view, it’s still in line with their ‘New Strategic Direction’.

There are big dangers ahead for the libraries and as the council’s own document says, “it is risky”. The dangers are:

–          Less than full funding and for 2 YEARS ONLY
–          An increasing reliance on VOLUNTEERS
–          Individual Libraries will increasingly be forced to act as businesses and may well have to compete with each other for funding

The council’s case for choosing a hived-off service has not been proved. The claimed overhead savings of around £300,000 are a form of tax dodge which will lead to an increase in the national deficit, in addition this saving is likely to become redundant under proposed changes to the Localism Bill.

The council’s own report shows that there is virtually no difference between the in-house and the” hived-off option” costs in relation to direct labour and other indirect operating costs. Indeed in some cases (shown in the council’s report) the hived-off cost is greater and the risks to the council are greater than keeping the service in-house.

Library campaigners believe that far from looking forward to a sustainable and secure future, Suffolk libraries face financial uncertainties, fragmentation and confusion, and still the possibility of closures.

We will continue our campaign for a free, universal and accessible, high quality and professional , publicly owned service for all of Suffolk’s individuals and communities

Prepared by Rosehill Readers following the Suffolk County Council Cabinet meeting and Libraries debate held 08/11/11.

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