Barnet’s Labour councillors have called for an Extraordinary Council Meeting to take place before the council’s budget is set to try and halt the plans to cut £2.85m from the Library Service and get the council to re-consult residents on different options to secure the long-term future of the service.
The motion from Leader of the Labour Group, Cllr Alison Moore points out that the council’s proposed library cuts do not begin until 2016/17 which gives the council more time to go back to the drawing board, work up new options and re-consult local people.
The proposed cuts are to be achieved by a mixture of closing several libraries, reducing library floor space by up to 90% and cutting the hours libraries are staffed by up to 60%
Leader of the Barnet Labour Group, Cllr Alison Moore said: “It is quite clear that none of the three options the council has consulted on are acceptable to residents. There is such strong public concern about these library cuts - and we know that even Conservative councillors are concerned about them - so we are calling for a debate to try and get consensus on pausing, working up and re-consulting on a fresh set of options before the budget is set in stone.”
Labour’s Libraries Spokesperson, Cllr Anne Hutton said: “The Library consultation has been a sham, with residents asked to choose between three unacceptable options. Thousands of people are calling for the council to rethink these proposals which will completely decimate the Library Service by cutting its budget by 60% -there is time to do this re-consultation so councillors need to have this debate.”
1. Cllr Moore and Cllr Hutton can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
2. The full text of the motion for the Extraordinary Council meeting:
“Request for Extraordinary Council Meeting - Motion in the name of Cllr Alison Moore
Council recognises that councillors and residents across Barnet strongly value their local libraries for their contributions to culture and literacy and the wider community.
Council notes the proposal to cut the Library Service budget by £2.85 million over the next three years, and the consultation on three different options to achieve this which include, in various combinations:
- Closing Mill Hill Library, East Finchley Library, Childs Hill Library, Osidge Library, East Barnet Library and South Friern Library
- reducing floor space by up to 90% at many libraries
- cutting the hours libraries are staffed by up to 60%
Council recognises the strength of public concern about and opposition to these options.
Council notes that the proposed budget cuts do not begin until 2016/17 and therefore LB Barnet has time to re-consider the plans.
Council therefore calls for a halt on plans to cut the library service until LB Barnet has re-consulted residents on a full range of options in order to secure the long-term future of a full professional library service in Barnet. The consultation should include an option to enhance the service provided whilst at least maintaining the current scope and reach of the library service in terms of floor space, opening hours and staffing.
In drawing up these options Council believes LB Barnet should look at:
- maximising the use of alternative funding streams such as developer contributions and government digital investment funds;
- more ambitious and creative income generation, working with local businesses and community organisations;
- developing libraries as community hubs for skills, culture, learning and improving community cohesion and literacy;
- drawing on best practice models from London boroughs and across the country and emerging government responses to the independent Sieghart report on England's public libraries.
Council also asks that the local community, including library users groups, and staff are involved in the development of the options for consultation.”
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568