You probably missed the councilâ€™s big press release on their cutting library hours by 9% this week. That will be because there wasnâ€™t one of course. The council uses your council tax to pay a communications team to keep bad news from you and to only pass on pointless, good news puff pieces such as this patronising walk to school nonsense. Great photo Cllr Bell.
Last July after the Labour council retreated from plans to close four libraries they mapped out the way forward in a cabinet report. That report talked about curtailing library hours and delegated authority to make the changes to the executive director of Environment and Customer Services. The report mentioned 25 hours of cuts, bad enough. The number published this week is 57.5 hours, more than twice as much and a 9% cut in opening hours. Although the decision was delegated there is no way it was not discussed with Labourâ€™s Cllr Ranjit Dheer who is in charge of this service and I am sure that he discussed it with council leader Julian Bell.
The change comes into force on 2nd July. It will see 20 library staff lose their jobs. Northfield library in my own ward will lose its two late opening evenings on Tuesday and Thursday. This really is a bad move. Notably the Labour administration has failed to explore new working practices, such as single handed working or using cheaper security guard type staff to manage any safety issues associated with single handed working. The managers stay in their back offices and the closed sign appears at 11 libraries.
Update: I was mistaken. Apparently there was a press release but I missed it because it was hidden away rather than being put on the front page like Bell’s Abbey Road high jinks. Mea culpa. Of course the council’s press release and web page failed to quantify the cut in hours and failed to give current hours with new hours so that you could work it out for yourself. We pay these people to us half the story.