The Industrial and Provident Society: its role in Suffolk libraries, Part I

25 Mar

Save Suffolk LibrariesThe collective madness which has seized Mark Bee, the Leader of the Tory Group, other Tory Councillors and Suffolk County Council ‘Business Development’ officers since Bee’s election in May 2011 is now bearing fruit. At this point, an impartial observer would look at the IPS and the motivations stated by SCC for its introduction into the way in which our public libraries are run and managed:

1. to save money (8.9 million in 2010/11 cut to 6.5 million)

2. to cut bureacracy

and notice that the reverse of both these is probably the case.

Organisational change on such a drastic scale will always damage or destroy efficiencies as well as inefficiencies; good ways of working as well as bad. Worse still, a new experimental structure like the IPS – particularly introduced in such a rush – is bound to create its own bureacracy. The detailed organisational decisions are being made about relationships within the new external body, the actions required by each member group to qualify, Directors to elect, delegates, Boards and all the supporting ‘back office’ needed to make it run in something like a smooth fashion. Dressing up this unnecessary complexity as ‘community involvement’, as the Conservaties continue to do, really won’t stand up to scrutiny.

Sucking nearly a third of the budget out of libraries will have drastic effects on the service regardless of how it is provided. The already diminished Bookfund will be first, staff will be next (and more painful). Anyone who tells you that you can hollow out the management and support staff of a previously lean, efficient library network and reduce funding by about a third and come out with an improved service is deluded.

Incidentally, Industrial and Provident Societies are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA),which is itself being abolished this year. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Obsorne confirmed that the FSA will be broken up, with the part that monitors financial institutions continuing as the “Prudential Regulatory Authority” but operating as a full subsidiary of the Bank of England. So even the regulator will be in a state of turmoil for some time.

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2 Responses to “The Industrial and Provident Society: its role in Suffolk libraries, Part I”

  1. M Cove April 16, 2012 at 3:16 pm #

    You have my deepest sympathies. Thank heavens we are being spared such nonsense in Cambs. Still deep cuts though.

    • Rosehill Readers May 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      Don’t forget that Cambs and Suffolk public library services got into bed together as the scrag-end of the SPINE initiative (Strategic Partnership In the East), so make sure the contagion doesn’t spread!

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