In response to Barnet Council’s recently published recommendations on the future of the Library service, Labour’s Libraries’ Spokesperson, Cllr Anne Hutton said:
“I am very disappointed that the long-awaited report into the future of Barnet’s library service is devoid of a business plan on how keeping all the libraries open will be a sustainable option. I rather suspect under the Tories it won’t.
“Staffing hours have been drastically cut from 688 to 188 with the shortfall being made up of ‘technology enabled’ access on many sites, with or without volunteers, which means students under the age of 16 will be excluded for much of the time. Are these not the very residents we should be encouraging?
“My main concern is that this plan is full of assumptions. Over £6m of public money is due to be spent on refurbishing the libraries and cutting their space to make way for ‘business and community’ use but where is the evidence that this will be taken up? It is shameful that after seven months no coherent business plan seems to exist and yet staffing is to be drastically cut.
“In the same vein partnership libraries will rely on volunteers. I have no objection to volunteers assisting the running of libraries but, as other councils will tell you, it needs to be properly co-ordinated and run, which means trained library staff in control, again there is no evidence of a plan for this.
“Of course the main problem is that Barnet Tories are falling over themselves to implement government cuts – no other London Borough that I know of is cutting its library budget by such a drastic amount as £2.85m, Camden next door is looking at a saving £800,000 for example. Barnet is at least top of the league in something then – such a pity it has to come at the expense of a sustainable library service.”
- For the published report on the future of the Library service see: http://barnet.moderngov.co.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=697&MId=8512&Ver=4
For more information contact:
Cllr Anne Hutton: firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the Barnet Labour Group: 020 8359 2568