Barnet’s Conservative councillors forced through their plan to cut the Library Service by over £2 million at last night's Full Council meeting.
The cuts plan slashes library staff by 46 per cent leaving libraries unstaffed most of the time, and restricts library access for unaccompanied under 15 year olds during unstaffed opening hours.
The plan also shrinks library floor space at all 14 libraries - for example, the floor space at Barnet's flagship Hendon Library will be reduced by 89 per cent.
The library cuts plan had been referred up to the Full Council meeting for a final decision, but the Tories rejected Labour’s proposal to use reserves to delay the decision until the financial robustness of the plan could be reviewed, and until IT issues related to technology assisted opening hours were fully resolved.
In her speech to the Council meeting Labour’s Libraries Spokesperson, Cllr Anne Hutton said: "There is still no detailed budget for the proposed letting out of the space, it’s all guesswork done on the back of an envelope.
"The IT problems have still not been resolved, despite our being assured last week that they had been. Barnet is the only council in the country even attempting to implement the Open+ scheme on such a scale. Peterborough, which has been oft quoted, only has two libraries open after 5.30pm and then only for a couple of hours, it hardly even bears comparison.
"The library service is part of the Children’s committee and access to the service for young people is of overriding concern. The Equalities Impact Assessment in the papers says that 10-15 year olds are the largest group of library users percentagewise, yet they are the ones who will be penalised the most as the number of hours that they can access a library unaccompanied will be cut to less than a third than at present.
"So much of this has clearly not been properly thought through."
1. For a copy of Labour Group amendment see:
2. For details of the library cuts proposals see:
For more information contact:
Cllr Anne Hutton: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568