Monday, 14 March 2011

Lock up your books, the Yanks are coming!

The Suffolk library saga seems to get more confusing by the day, but what is clear to see is the strength of the opposition to the plans that the Tory led Suffolk County Council have for our libraries.

To be fair to the County Council it is not just the future of libraries that is confusing the public, the whole 'New Strategic Direction' seems to be a mish mash of ideas.

But it is the future of the Suffolk Library service where confusion reigns supreme. Judy Terry (our own Rushmere Ward Tory councillor) has called for more responses to the library consultation, now she has had over 1,300 responses - which I think is great, but maybe the problem is that the Suffolk public are not giving Judy and her Tory cronies the answers that they were after! It is obvious that most responses have called for the County Council to continue to run the Suffolk library service.

On the excellent James' Blog, you can read a more in depth look at how it is quite plain to see that they Tories always had a long term plan for the libraries that did not include them continuing to be run by the County Council or even saved by local groups or run by Parish and District Councils.

We now have come to the position where the County Council are now seeming to rule out any sort of conversation with any group that just wants to save libraries and leave them in the control of the County Council. The reason why? It seems we are well on the way to having the Suffolk Library service run by American firm LSSI.

We first heard from Judy Terry that LSSI and one other unnamed group were interested but the very next day we are told that Suffolk County Council had met LSSI four times already. It seems that the consultation was a waste of time from the start.

I am sure no other group has even had more than one meeting with the county, but though we have had Ben Gummer MP threaten to chain himself to Rosehill Library and Dr Poulter is intending to join a 24 hour 'read in; at a Suffolk Library this weekend, we have had no open criticism of the way the County seems to have already decided that LSSI are the way ahead.

Will either of the Ipswich MP's join the planned Suffolk march against the the Suffolk plans for the Library service? I know that Ben Gummer visited Rosehill last week, but he seemed to forget to sign the petition. If LSSI take over Rosehill does that mean he will not see him pretending to be David Blaine in Tomline Road?

Again for all those interested in the future of the Suffolk Library service, I urge you to take a look at James' Blog

These are some of the examples of ' saying one thing but meaning another' that James has unearthed (all from the mouth of Judy Terry!)

'However, should responses to the consultation prove disappointing, it is imperative that we make the necessary savings, meaning that we may have to close 39 libraries.'

Then the next sentence is: 'The prospects are exciting for a library revolution, and I look forward to hearing your views.'

Now where does this leave 'Big Society?' - or has Mr Cameron forgot to tell us it is now called 'Big Private Company?'

The County do not seem keen to talk to the various 'save Libraries' groups, but I thought that is what 'Big Society' was all about - I always knew that most Tory Councillors either did not understand 'Big Society' or if they understood it, were dead against it - well here in Suffolk they seem to have totally blown it out of the water - and an American private company is likely to be offered the chance to run the libraries rather than any 'friends' groups.

Now again it seems rather strange, that in the local paper when we have all these stories about LSSI, that we have not heard from Lib Dem Cllr Inga Lockington (who wanted to start a 'friends' group at the Westbourne Library and Tory Cllr Stewart who chaired the public meeting about the future of the Rosehill Library.

Maybe it is because it is their fellow coalition Borough Councillor, Judy Terry who is leading the way in destroying the Suffolk Library Service.

I hope many of you can join the 'Save Suffolk Libraries' march in April- wonder if Gummer and Poulter will turn up?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the 'voices for the library' video - accessible through the Save Debenham Library facebook page? Our read-in lasted 28 hours, had 1000 visitors and, we hope, drew attention to the fact that small rural libraries are a cultural and social hub for isolated rural villages. If we lose them, we'll lose access, forever, to infinite, and unquantifiable cultural and social wealth. Libraries have been around for 250 years...we're just passing through. It is our responsibility to keep them for the following generations.