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Ealing and Northfield

Last day of libraries consultation

Today is the last day of the libraries consultation. If you have not yet completed the council’s questionnaire then click here. Their questions are very irritating and their initial presumption of 30% cuts is an outrageous lie. But, please go through their questionnaire anyway. If the council gets a big enough raspberry it will go and pick on someone or something else.

One assumption made by the Labour council is that the tiny, understaffed libraries at Pitshanger (3.9 FTE) and Northfields (3.6 FTE) can be staffed by volunteers as their user groups are nice, middle class people who can look after themselves. From my knowledge of these two communities they are rather busy going to work, raising children, looking after their parents and keeping their homes and gardens looking decent. They are very community minded but they pay £2,000 a year in council tax and something like £6,000 a year in other taxes to keep the council going and they are very resentful that the council wants to use their precious time to replace very cheap librarians.

Of course Labour has a very different model in mind for its heartlands of Acton (12.3 FTE) and Southall (12.6 FTE). The order of the day here is to have hugely over-staffed libraries that are not threatened in any way.

I wonder how many copies of Atlas Shrugged they stock in Acton and Southall.

7 replies on “Last day of libraries consultation”

Yes, quite. As it happens he does work two days a week for Ealing Southall MP Virendra Sharma. He also criticises the Tories for raising the leader’s allowance in 2006 as Jason Stacey gave up a well paid full-time job to be a full-time council leader. He has kept the full-time alowance whilst doing a part-time job. Ho hum.

I have completed the questionnaire and promise that if the libraries in Ealing are cut in any way I will participate to the fullest in any civil disobedience to protest at their closure.

Phil, you seem to be contradicting yourself somewhat on your attitudes to volunteering here. On an earlier post in February (Libraries – don’t be fooled) you said:

“Although there is a hard revenue squeeze there is still fat in the libraries back office and management structure to go for. Add in some devolution of power to local libraries and maybe some volunteering and it could get a lot worse before you had to close libraries.”

And in a comment to me after I asked how many people had the free time:

“I volunteered to run my school library when I was a kid. I have been involved in running my rowing club for 20 years. I am helping to run a rowing race on Sunday. I was treasurer of an event for 5 years. People run charity shops. Why is this idea so far-fetched?”

So you weren’t skeptical about the number of potential volunteers earlier in the year but now it appears you are. Or is the idea only far fetched in Pitshanger and Northfields?

Emily,

I was reporting my impression of what people have told me. They are not impressed with the idea of these particular communities being seen as particularly suitable for volunteering whilst other ones need the paternal hand of a munificent Labour council.

My opinion of volunteering is that it is a great thing and that we need more of it. We simply cannot afford to provide all of the social goods we seek if they are provided by government. Government is too big, too distant and too stupid (in the sense of being inefficient and unwilling to listen) to do this sensibly.

Lots of services are provided voluntarily – Lifeboats, JPs, school govenors, sports clubs, etc. In the US 80% of firemen are volunteers. This winter has seen an excellent venture by local churches to provide a night shelter for homeless people on the streets. The state cannot deliver love and sense of service to your fellow man. Volunteering often can.

With the libraries I would like to see the libraries in the hands of voluntary organisations who pay librarians. I would volunteer the management tiers not the people at the sharp end. The council’s agenda is all about big libraries that suit librarians. Their officer led agenda does not address user needs.

Hi Phil,

Thanks for your reply. I feel like our high taxes should continue to pay for statutory council services like libraries and library staff as they have done for the last century. Voluntary organisations paying for library staff is an intriguing idea but leaves library staff numbers dependent on how much funding such organisations receive, at a time when government is cutting support for charities and the public has less spare cash to donate.

Emily

I have been thinking about how to put pressure on the Labour Group to back off on the libraries. If one goes by the maxim of “follow the money”, the Labour Group’s money comes from the trade unions. At the moment they are resisting core high-level job cuts within the council itslelf (the pwer base) and they probably care consierably less about the employment and well-being of library staf in the libraries than we do. The thing to do might be to start a campaign and organisation by the Conservative Group in Ealing for a no frills volunteer programme to address cut jobs in Ealingolunteers would be “championed” to vacancies in the areas they are helping in in the event that opportunities arise with an undertaking that well-performing v (you might even get Cameron to spring some money from his “big society” project if he was approached right. I now of many highly skilled and able graduates who would be a boon to Ealing Borough and cannot even get volunteer work because of the way JobCentre Plus operate (kicking out real volunteers to get “no hopers” into work expererience placements – this happens at Oxfam for example) and places like Ealing’s Volunteer Centre which is obsessed with not putting volunteers into places where they are replacing salaried positions and hence is no performing the professional role of matching volunteers to opportunities in a professional manner, but instead are involved in Labour/trade union politics and hence en-acting policy and politics rather than doing their job!
Then you set the challenge to the Labour Group that every front-line job they cut you will find a volunteer for it. Just think of the pressure you will create on the trade unions and the Labour Group with your army of volunteers and the spotlight cast on “big society” Ealing. With that much Central Government interest it should put a lot of pressure on “car park” Sharma and “Southall” Bell.
Maggie.

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