Monday, 13 December 2010

Cambridgeshire County Council Cuts - What's your view?

On Thursday, December 9, the County Council released some preliminary information of the spending cuts it is currently planning. The surprising thing was that only on Tuesday, at Full Council, the administration was refusing to release details of the cuts.

A few days earlier the Conservative administration briefed County Councillors (including Labour and Liberal Democrat Councillors) regarding the scope of the cuts. Those attending this briefing were sworn to secrecy regarding the changes - they are still unable to discuss specific areas of the cuts that have not yet been leaked by the administration into the public domain.

The BBC News covered the story here (with an interview with John Reynolds the cabinet member responsible).

One of the features of the current review is that the County Council is asking residents across Cambridgeshire to prioritise the services the County offers (i.e. say which areas should be cut and which should not). 

The survey is available here. One of the options given on the survey is to close 19 libraries across Cambridgeshire, which we believe would almost certainly include some in the city. While we have reservations about the use of such a survey, which will effectively be used by the County Council to "justify" the areas they plan to cut, we would urge those who feel strongly about their library provision to complete the survey and make their views known. If you think closing libraries in the county is a bad idea, let them know!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Campaign for the Book: Open letter to Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey

Children's author and Campaign for the Book founder Alan Gibbons has written an open letter to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in defence of local library provision across the country. While we wait to hear the full proposals for the future of Cambridgeshire's library service, we hope Cambridgeshire County Council will take note of the points his letter raises:

Open letter to Jeremy Hunt MP and Ed Vaizey MP, Ministers at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport Dear Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey

Library users and staff across the country are increasingly concerned at the implications of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Over 250 library closures have been announced. Some, for example those in Oxfordshire and Lewisham, are in areas involved in the pilot of the Future Libraries Programme which promised: “A strong library service, based around the needs of local people, can play a key role in our ambitions to build the Big Society by providing safe and inclusive spaces for people to read, learn and access a range of community services.”

When the then Secretary of State Andy Burnham hesitated over halting Wirral’s attempted closure of half its libraries just over a year ago, Ed Vaizey said: "If Andy Burnham is not prepared to intervene when library provision is slashed in a local authority such as the Wirral, it is clear that he is ignoring his responsibilities as secretary of state.” Andy Burnham did, of course, change his mind under pressure after several months.

Now cuts approaching the scale of those in the Wirral are being repeated across the country, not only in Oxfordshire and Lewisham, but in Buckinghamshire, Nottinghamshire, Leeds, Brent, Gloucestershire and many, many more. Ed Vaizey has written to councils reminding them of their duty under the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service.
It is becoming commonplace for councils to close up to half their library branch networks. It would be inconsistent if the DCMS did not superintend councils acting as unjustifiably as Wirral, preventing the slashing of services.

We call on the DCMS not to ignore its responsibilities. We ask you to act in the spirit of the 1964 Act and prevent councils inflicting cuts which amount to cultural vandalism.

Yours sincerely,
Alan Gibbons

Organiser, the Campaign for the Book

The following authors, illustrators, poets, publishers, librarians, teachers, journalists, agents, screenwriters, translators, film producers and general readers have signed the Campaign for the Book petition:

Philip Pullman
Kate Mosse
Michael Holroyd
Peter Dickinson OBE
Barry Cryer, comedian and writer
Robin McKinlay
Carol Ann Duffy
Bonnie Greer
Gillian Slovo
Maureen Freely
Kathy Lette (“Closing our libraries will make us a nation of numbskulls – the Illiterati.” Kathy Lette.)
Julia Donaldson
Frank Cottrell-Boyce
Michael Rosen
Barrie Cunningham OBE
Jackie Kay
Kwei Armah
Malorie Blackman
Beverley Naidoo
Darren Shan
Geraldine McCaughrean
Joan Bakewell
Terry Jones
Lisa Appignanesi, President English PEN
Susan Barry and Marlene Johnson, Hachette Children’s Books
Danuta Kean, Deputy Director, Creative Enterprise Centre, School of Arts, Brunel University
Mark Le Fanu, Society of Authors
Professor Stuart Hall
Simon Brett
Howard Schuman
Anne Chisholm, Chair, Royal Society of Literature
Tricia Adams, Director, School Library Association
Biddy Fisher, Cilip President
Hannah Plom, Hon Secretary, Cilip YLG
Rebecca Hemming, Chair, Cilip SLG
Duncan Wright, School Librarian of the Year, 2010
Moris Farhi MBE
Leonie Flynn
Ruth Goldsmith
Gillian Cross
Matt Whyman
Joanna Briscoe
Caroline Rance
Christine Athey
Melanie Worsfold
Anne Anderson
Mavis Cheek
Zoe Allinson
Dr Jessie Hey
Pie Corbett
Melvin Burgess
Kevin Crossley-Holland
Nicola Morgan
Tim Bowler
Adele Geras
Christine Blower, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary, NUT
Robert Swindells
Brenda Swindells
Jamila Gavin
Tony Bradman
David Nicholls
James Carter
Celia Rees
Susan Shaper, Cilip’s SLG committee
Anne Cassidy
Nick Arnold
Meg Rosoff
Adele Geras
Catherine Johnson
Chrissie Gittins
Philip Ardagh
Sridhar Gowda
Geraldin Rose.
Jeremy Strong
Korky Paul
Elizabeth Kay
Tommy Donbavand
Sue Eves
Penny Dolan
Sally Nicholls
Linda Newbery
M G Harris
David Bedford
Rhiannon Lassiter
Bali Rai
Gwen Grant
Kathryn Evans
Julie Wilkie
Emma Slack
Jane Ray
Chris Priestley
Anne Rooney
Lindsey Fraser
Celia Rees
Anna Perera
Sally Prue
Lynn Breeze
Bernard Ashley
Steve Weatherill
Helena Pielichaty
Julia Jarman
Berlie Doherty
Andrew Fusek Peters
Steve Skidmore
David Belbin
Saviour Pirotta
John Foster
Prue Goodwin
Kay Green, Earlyworks Press
Mary Hoffman
Alec Williams
Peter Cox, Litopia
Sue Barrow
Ian Bland
Vanessa Harbour, Editor, Write4Children
Sally Kincaid, Divisional Secretary, Wakefield and District NUT
John Illingworth, former president NUT
Barry Conway, Secretary, Bolton NUT
Ian Harris, Secretary Wirral NUT
Mick Wattam, Doncaster UCATT treasurer
Jim Board, Secretary, Doncaster Unison
Ian Leaver, Secretary NUT Leicester
Jenny Day, President NUT Leicester
Peter Flack, Assistant Secretary NUT Leicester
Andy Reeve, Secretary Leicestershire NUT
Bernard Harper, President, Leicester and District Trades Council
Caroline Horn, Director, Reading Zone
Nikki Gamble, Write Away
Michael Thorn, ACHUKA
Jane Hunt
Lynn Huggins-Cooper
Tony Mitton
- and many hundreds more