SCC Elections 2.5.2013

4 May


We note with interest that former library campaigner, Mandy Gaylard  also Sandra Gage (in St Helen’s ward and Rushmere ward in Ipswich respectively) were elected to Suffolk County Council when results were announced yesterday. Councillor Judy Terry has been the chief drum-beater on behalf of the Tory majority for all that has beset the public library service in Suffolk since 2011. She drove forward the ‘Consultation’ document on libraries with its inherent threats to a number of branches including Rosehill; she and her fellow Tories completely ignored the strongly expressed views from the public coming out of that ‘Consultation’ that they wanted the libraries to be funded and run by the County Council, the legal Library Authority; she has been the person pushing the divestment of the service to an external IPS, at the same time securing a one-third cut in the budget with an additional £100,000 deficit, supposedly to be raised by local people to fill that gap in funding.

RUSHMERE Ward. Number of votes, followed by % of votes:

GAGE, Sandra Labour 1117 47.25
TERRY, Judy Conservative 628 26.57
ELLIS, Peter UK Independence Party 401 16.96
WILMOT, Kirsty Green 94 3.98
JONES, Gareth Liberal Democrat 90 3.81
JACKSON, Dale Independent 34 1.44

IPS charges for World Book Night event

23 Apr

A reader of this blog writes: “I noticed in the Ipswich Star that the central library are charging people £3 to take part in their World Book Night event tonight (Tuesday 23 April 2013):

I think this is pretty shocking really. World Book Night is intended to be a free event, subsidized by publishers, to promote reading and the love of books. It seems to me quite wrong for the library to be using it as a fundraising opportunity.

Mentioning this to you because of your interest in monitoring the libraries’ activities under the new ownership setup. If this sort of thing is illustrative of their attitude then I think people should be made aware of how wrong it is.”

Political parties on Suffolk libraries

20 Apr

After a little hustling, we are pleased to have elicited the following policy statements on libraries from the three opposition parties in Suffolk County Council. Remember, the present dominant Tory council has:

  • cut the funding to libraries by a third,
  • privatised the service to a high-risk, untested (sorry, “imaginative”) Industrial & Provident Society,
  • withheld a further £100,000 from the IPS, which is expected to be raised by “community groups” around the county.

The facts need to get out there to voters before they fill in their Postal Votes, or go to the ballot box on Thursday May 2, 2013.

Political party statements

Please back our libraries

15 Apr

Letter to the Editor (East Anglia Daily Times 15 April 2013):-

Please back our libraries

Sir, – Suffolk County Council is paying an Independent and provident Society (IPS) to run our libraries but is asking local residents to raise money to cover the !100,000 shortfall announced for this year.

Some local councils have given quite large sums from their precept to help with deficit funding.

Some libraries are trying to for “Friends” groups to support them in fundraising etc.

At a campaign meeting last night (set up two years ago to try to safeguard the future of our libraries) members from various libraries reported on questions being asked of the IPS, ranging from where the money is held from donations, whether it will safeguard individual libraries and what will happen to those libraries who do not raise the required amount?

The responses have been inconsistent, variable and undelineated. Obtuse answers are unacceptable when the IPS are charged with delivering such a valued service. There should not be anomalies – transparency is needed.

There is no guarantee that the deficit funding will not be more challenging next year, so that, in the case of Saxmundham we may be asked to raise considerably more than the £2,000 required this year. SCC has reserves of more than £150 million. Core services matter – don’t squander taxpayers’ money on expensive social enterprise schemes with no history of success or adequate management skills.

If you believe in holding on to our precious libraries, please ask your local candidate to support this service, which means so much to so many.

JENNIE PINK, Saxmundham

If you want to add to the discussion, please send a letter to the EADT editor now.

County Council election Thur. 2nd May 2013

10 Apr


As a campaign group for our public library service in Suffolk, Rosehill Readers works with other library supporters and interested groups who are very concerned at the cuts in funding and dramatic changes to the way in which the libraries are run. All of these changes have been imposed by the large Conservative majority on Suffolk County Council (contrary to the overwhelming views expressed to them by the public in the 2011 ‘Consultation’ process). We urge everyone who cares about the library service we love to get involved in the lead-up to the County Council elections on Thursday May 2nd – in fact, it’s even more urgent than that because many people vote by post, so the message needs to get out to voters now.

Many people don’t realise that SCC have privatised the libraries and cut the funding by a third, not to mention withholding an additional £100,000 which community groups are supposed to raise (surely, that’s double taxation, isn’t it?). Please download our flyer and circulate as widely as you can. There’s a Word format editable version for you to insert your library’s name and your own contact details; there’s also a PDF version with the Rosehill Readers contact details. You can print either version: they’re two sides of an A5 sheet.

This is one of the few opportunities for those who care about our libraries to change things for the better.

May 2013 election flyer for editing

May 2013 election flyer Rosehill Readers

Wickedness, 21st century

11 Mar

“… people are singing these songs again, when the poor are yet again being made to pay for the wickedness of the rich.”

– David Almond (author of Skellig) introducing a protest song from the 1930s, Which side are you on, on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Sun.10th March, 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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