Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Nettleham Parish Council Responds to Lincolnshire County Council's Library Proposals Describing them as 'Irrational'

The following letter has been sent to Lincolnshire County Council's Head of Libraries and Heritage:-

Dear Mr Platt 
Re: Proposed changes to library provision in Lincolnshire 
Further to your letter and Information Pack dated the 20 June 2013, the Parish Council held an Extraordinary Parish Council meeting on 11 September 2013 regarding the above proposals and in particular the proposal to close Nettleham Library. 
At the above meeting the Parish Council unanimously resolved to formally object to Lincolnshire County Council’s proposal to close Nettleham Library in May 2014.  The Parish Council’s reasons for objecting to the proposals are summarised as follows:-
  1. As stated in your letter the statutory responsibility for providing Public Libraries lies with Lincolnshire County Council and the proposals to transfer your statutory function to voluntary organisations/Parish Councils is simply irrational.  
  2. The Parish Council acknowledges that Lincolnshire County Council has to make savings due to the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review, however, a 31% reduction in the library budget is totally unreasonable; cuts of 5-10% would be acceptable.
  3. If the £1.9 million reduction sought in the library budget was spread across those living in the county (over 700,000) this would equate to merely 5p per person per week, which illustrates the absurdity of your current proposals.  
  4. On the 50p coin that was issued in the year of the Millennium there is depicted “Public Libraries”, which was intended to celebrate 150 years (1850 – 2000) of such libraries across the whole of the UK. If LCC proceed with their current proposals, they will in effect be dismembering the work that was undertaken by our forefathers over that long period of time.
  5. These proposals would have a significant impact on children’s educational needs, especially in the current economic climate.  Furthermore the elderly population would be adversely affected as they would be unlikely to access the proposed retained libraries due to transportation/health issues, etc.  A large proportion of the elderly do not have access to IT equipment which is becoming more and more necessary to undertake day-to-day activities. 
  6. A library is not just about borrowing books; it is also a hub for seeking assistance from the professional library staff for a great number of activities including assisting with IT issues and gaining necessary information.
  7. The library service could continue to be undertaken by LCC if it adopted a more commercially astute approach in terms of the running of this service.  For example, Nettleham Library at present only occupies a 1/3 of the overall building and rather than expecting other organisations to take over the management of the library service, some of the remaining 2/3 of the building could be rented to small/medium sized businesses thereby securing an income that could be used to off-set the costs associated with the running of the library. 
  8. We have serious concerns in relation to the costs stated in the consultation document especially in relation to the support costs which were the highest in the country; some investigations need to be undertaken in relation to these costs. 
  9. The online consultation process was not user friendly and the timetable (being held during the summer period) was grossly unfair.  Moreover, the requirement to lodge an Expression of Interest before the end of the Consultation process was fundamentally flawed. 
  10. Finally, a topic of this magnitude should be decided by the whole Lincolnshire County Council voting on the matter and not by LCC’s Executive Committee; such an approach is quite frankly undemocratic. 
Despite its formal objection the Parish Council nevertheless decided as a fall-back position that it would submit, on a without prejudice basis, an Expression of Interest prior to the 30 September 2013 deadline. 

Local residents voiced their concerns over Lincolnshire County Council proposals on BBC Radio Lincolnshire yesterday (24th September) when Melvyn Prior broadcast for 3 hours from outside the library.

You can listen again to 'Melvyn in the Morning' by clicking here.

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