Archive | February, 2013

Judy Terry: “I am not a cultural vandal”

28 Feb

Rosehill Readers has engaged with and campaigned on the issue of cuts to  library provision in our county since the days of the dread hand of SCC Chief Executive, Andrea Hill. Since then the story has resembled a tragi-comic soap opera with the SCC Tory majority completely ignoring the wishes of Suffolk residents not to have their libraries outsourced (expressed through the council’s own ‘Consultation’ process). We have watched and commented, marched and leafletted, petitioned and given evidence/asked questions in the council; above all, we have expressed our fears for our beloved library service and the dreadful way in which it has been treated throughout this turbulent period.

Now, the Suffolk County Council portfolio holder responsible for libraries regularly uses her column in The Flyer free magazine to bang the drum for Tory policies and deride any opposing voices. She recently (Issue 84, January 2013) repeated views familiar to those who see her appearances in the media: “Libraries are saved”, “all is well”, “great success”  “Aren’t Labour awful”etc.:

“By transferring the whole network to an Industrial & Provident Society, a type of co-operative managed by a board comprising people involved with their libraries and with strong local knowledge and specialist skills, we not only cut out bureaucracy, saving £2m with further savings to be delivered in 2015, but we also ensured that they have a secure well funded future. Longer opening hours, new services, stronger engagement with children and young people, as well as older and vulnerable groups, are just some of the benefits arising from the enthusiasm of excellent staff and volunteers, who have brought imagination and energy to reinvigorating Suffolk’s much-loved libraries… I am delighted with the outcome… all 44 of Suffolk’s libraries, including those in Ipswich, are doing nicely thank you.”

The IPS has certainly succeeded in one thing: replacing County Council bureaucracy with interlacing community/friends’ groups, incorporations, committees, delegates, board members, network meetings and ‘governance models’ which are baroque in their complexity and must be baffling to those volunteers caught up in them. Here is our response, which was published in Issue 85 of The Flyer:

Dear Editor,
Councillor Judy Terry has obviously had a lot of fun writing her latest diatribe and scoring as many political points as she can cram into a small space. Amidst all the sound and fury the future of a much loved and well-used public library service has been put at serious risk by her own policies and those of the Tory majority on Suffolk County Council. How she can live with herself after claiming in the article that our libraries are well funded is beyond belief. We all know that the Tories have cut the libraries funding by one third from its previous inadequate level. Library users all over the county are noticing declines in the service and also the strain under which library staff are working. Cutting the less-than-one-percent of the SCC budget which used to be spent on libraries was vindictive and will clearly not save any money in the long run. Suffolk library users deserve better from their councillors.
Rosehill Readers
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