August 1, 2011
In a comment below Shirley asks me to condemn the activities of councils and others. So I do
"it is immoral and utterly rotten for councils, backed by the ghastly creatures in central government, to force people to raise money to run public libraries, when those people have paid perfectly adequate levels of tax already and the councils and the people in central government are sitting on the money."
Shirley refers to people living within Cambridgshire. There is another piece about Cambridgeshire County Council in the papers this morning. It says that a review of the library service currently is contemplating setting up a trust to run the libraries. It then says that the main reason for setting up trusts, viz that the council would avoid paying business rates by so doing, is about to be nullified by a change in the tax collection arrangementsv wherein the council will themsleves in the future collect the tax. In other words it would always have been a tax fiddle - and now that has been pointed out. In fact the reason for most library trusts (as widely advocated for years by various bodies) was always just a silly tax fiddle among the authorities.
I also observe that Cambridgeshire County Council appear to have been conducting reviews of their public libraries continuously since 1066. Every year they indulge in reviews which mean closing a few more libraries. This is the council that boasted about turning old red phone boxes into libraries, to try and get a line in the local paper.
Cambridge has a nice new public library, but the operation of the County wide service is dreadful and it is time the councillors got a grip on it instead of trying to fiddle with the peoples' taxes
Posted by Perkins at August 1, 2011 8:14 AM
Can you show where Cambridgeshire have said that the only reason they considered a trust was that associated with the business rate?
Posted by: A question at August 1, 2011 8:12 PM
I didn't say 'only' reason. I said 'main' reason. It's in the local paper.
Posted by: perkins at August 1, 2011 8:45 PM
thanks for that. As I do not follow papers in Cambridgeshire please can you repeat this evidence on here so that your point can be backed up? It would be very useful if you could also show where the council have made this point.
Posted by: A question at August 2, 2011 11:05 AM
Well... if it's in the paper it must be the truth.
Posted by: Gary Marks at August 2, 2011 2:07 PM
The trust was also to 'free' us from local authority strictures and rules e.g. over the website.
I should point put that they have already paid consultants lots of money to examine this idea (and more would be paid if it were to be set up).
They (library management)refuse to say that any local libraries will be closed but this is the implication of the review and the 'need' to cut millions from our budget over 5 years. So local people are forced to find the money to fund what they thought they were already paying for e.g. via Parish precept.
Meanwhile many experienced staff are made redundant- so you might keep a library but there'll be a long queue for someone to help you !
Posted by: M Cove at August 2, 2011 5:17 PM
Just received a reply from Hunt & Vaizey of the DCMS (I'd rather have Carlton of the FO any day of the week, but needs must...) via a gentleman with the glorious first name of Marples. I may rip the letter apart in its entirety one day soon (if I have enough time so to do while chatting to film stars and writing novels...) but for now I will just take issue with its reference to a Future Libraries Programme supposed to support 30 authorities via 10 pilot programmes. This does not feel like anything much different from every other review since 1066, and is probably about as uneccessary. While I am neither a right-winger, Conservative nor blind adherent to the faith that the private sector knows best, I do suspect there is massive waste and inefficiency re service delivery/distribution in libraries and that experienced businessmen like Tim Coates know how to fix these problems, if only they were given a free hand.
Tim and Shirley, feel free to print my email to Hunt & Vaizey and their response if you wish and if it is legal so to do.
Posted by: James Christie at August 2, 2011 6:04 PM
I am still awaiting an answer to the question posed above.
Posted by: The questioner at August 7, 2011 1:08 PM
Dear Ms Questioner. If you tell us who you are, I'll answer you.
Posted by: perkins at August 7, 2011 1:23 PM