“Library staff hit out over changes” (EADT article)

17 Oct

Today’s East Anglian Daily Times has a front page article quoting from a letter sent by Suffolk UNISON on behalf of library staff to the Industrial & Provident Society (IPS) Interim Board and General Manager. As detailed in our previous blog post, the IPS which is now running Suffolk’s library network with much reduced funding from SCC has issued a “consultation” document about a new staff structure. The letter is based on UNISON’s response document. Both of these can be viewed on Suffolk UNISON’s website and they don’t make comfortable reading for the IPS Interim Board.

At the same time today’s Guardian has an article about Cornwall County Council, where Suffolk is cited with other authorities driving forward with major privatisations of public services:-

“Emboldened by the eviscerating cuts imposed on councils by the coalition government – 28% between 2011 and 2015 – large Tory-run authorities in Cornwall, Suffolk and Barnet, north London, have embarked on their own high profile versions of the Ridley model, claiming that impoverishment gave them no choice but to pursue large-scale privatisation.

To date, however, almost all have resulted in political failure. As the no confidence vote that removed Cornwall county council’s leader, Alec Robertson, on Tuesday proved, such schemes repeatedly prove toxic to the public.”

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2 Responses to ““Library staff hit out over changes” (EADT article)”

  1. James Hargrave (@onlygeek) October 18, 2012 at 9:16 am #

    Reading the Guardian article and looking at the situation in Cornwall shows what a victory we achieved against the County Council here in Suffolk. Sure we would have preferred to see the service properly run by the County Council but better what we have here – the service run by a charitable co-operative that have the services’s best interest at their heart than a privatisation or splitting up of the service.

    I think it is a great shame that Rosehill Readers don’t form a local library group. join the IPS and put up a Board Member. You would certainly have my vote! What we need in Suffolk is for as many people as possible who support the libraries to step forward and join the IPS so it can be as powerful a force as it can be.

    There are elections for the IPS Board next year. You could do so much more inside the tent than outside.

  2. Rosehill Readers October 19, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Without wishing to ‘talk down the economy’, have you actually looked hard at the library service in Suffolk? While politicians like Judy Terry and Mark Bee have trumpeted: “Libraries are saved”, almost all of the unseen support services on which a comprehensive and efficient public library provision depends have been removed to satisfy the cuts imposed by the Tory majority on SCC. This hollowing-out has resulted in support tasks being largely exported to the already overstretched staff in branches. Or not done at all. At the same time, Suffolk has introduced a completely new Library Management System (Spydus), and embarked on a partnership with Cambridge CC (SPINE). This makes no mention of the transfer of the service to an external IPS provider, a risky option, as admitted by the Tories who pushed it through.
    Is it any wonder that the staff who take pride in the service they provide are under extreme pressure, particularly if they find it impossible to perform the growing number of jobs they are expected to do? We don’t blame the staff; we don’t really blame the IPS – although we will continue to monitor and comment on performance – we blame the Tories who have made a savage cut (nearly a third of the budget) to what was already a shoestring service and which, until recently, performed miracles to provide a wide range of services to the public at a bargain price. These miracles largely relied on the staff ‘going the extra mile’ to ensure that the service was delivered. Why would Rosehill Readers join the IPS as a ‘community group’ (albeit unelected and not necessarily representative of that community) and be complicit in supporting something we strongly disagree with?

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