Author Topic: Community Libraries Petition - Full Council Meeting : 23rd Sept 2011  (Read 2040 times)

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Offline Shirley Burnham

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[admin] Shirleys' 1st posting on Talkswindon - originally made within the 'How SBC 'leverages' capacity, and costs, from 3rd Sector volunteers' thread, we thought it deserved a thread of its own.[/admin]



I have not posted on Talk Swindon before.  After last night's meeting I sent the following letter to the Mayor and Councillors.   You should know that the Leader and several others have written courteous apologies in reply.  Anyway, here it is  --  so that, if you wish, you can talk about it.   

Esteemed Mr Mayor and Councillors


COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPTEMBER 2010

I take the liberty of forwarding you a link to the points I had intended to make to yourselves this evening.  These I had read at home several times, timing myself not to exceed five minutes.   I would ask that you now please consider the matters that I had so painstakingly prepared.

http://www.friendsofoldtownlibrary.co.uk/Council23Sept2010.htm        [please view website in Explorer]

It was disappointing that in allowing many councillors to make lengthy, detailed points about their dissatisfaction with this or that other Party's political record, members of the public were much more precisely timed out, quite abruptly, if they seemed to be likely to exceed the time allotted to them by a nanosecond, or had failed to couch their comments as a question. 

Almost without exception, the older members of the public were unable to hear or understand what was said because it was articulated so badly and without a nod of recognition that the public should be involved as anything more than bewildered spectators.

Tonight's meeting began with brusqueness, to a gentleman in the gallery.   Rather than that being a one-off aberration, it was compounded by further rude interruptions to what Mary Ratcliffe had carefully prepared to read out to Members.  Mary Ratcliffe,  unlike yourselves a person of a certain cultural distinction, was barked at in a manner that was untoward and offensive.

My personal thanks, of course, to those few who showed interest in the topic of Libraries and who attempted to make useful contributions of whatever nature.

Although the debates on other subjects were of much interest, the hour became very late and the public exhausted.

The alacrity with which a majority of Members agreed not to change the order of the Agenda only underlined the fact that those who had made an effort to come to listen to the matters of special interest to them, were of little significance and, in fact, rather spoiled the political bunfight that Members had come to enjoy.  The public was certainly made to feel "not fit for purpose" and unfortunately none of them was able to witness Councillor Foley's mortification at the manner in which the meeting had been conducted, nor hear her gracious apology to me in the foyer.

Specifically --  and notwithstanding her courtesy with regard to the above  --  those who had come to support the Libraries Petition were not impressed that its wording was deliberately misunderstood by the Lead Member in order to trivialise their concerns.   It seems quite clear that those who signed it were unaware that a degree in Semantics was required in order that they might not find themselves understood to be opposing the work of the RNLI, the WRVS, The Samaritans and other well-organised voluntary bodies, rather than the replacement of staff in  a statutory service, by community volunteers.

The lateness of the hour now dictates that I shall close this message to you all.


With kind regards
I remain

Yours sincerely

Shirley Burnham
« Last Edit: September 25, 2010, 03:07:56 pm by Dougal »

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Re: COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPT 2011
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2010, 04:45:00 pm »

Welcome to Talkswindon Shirley  :)

As much as people may be dismayed, angered or disappointed by the behaviour of Swindon's Conservative administration, I am glad they have seen the inside of the monkeyhouse for themselves.

Remember: Local elections in Swindon will be held on Thursday 5th May 2011

Offline Muggins

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Re: Re: COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPT 2011
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2010, 06:13:46 pm »
Hi Shirley,

I recognise everything you say - we may not have seen it all in one go, so loud and so long, but we have suffered it many, many times. 

It's all very well having an apology in the foyer afterwards, but this is not the first time, although it may be the worst time, that members of the public have put themselves forward for engagement, only to see this sort of fiasco.  It should be about ensuring that SBC especially the Councillors  'change the way they work'  etc.

Time for a change:

Quote from latest report about Connecting People:

5.1.5 Continue to raise the profile of CPCP particulalry with members of the public in terms of benefits beign realised and the opportunity it provides to engage more meaningfully with the council and partners. 

Bet you can't wait for the next time!
Lifes not always fair. Sometimes you can get a splinter even sliding down a rainbow. - Cherralea Morgen

Offline Drone

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Re: Re: COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPT 2011
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2010, 06:41:29 pm »
I have not posted on Talk Swindon before.  After last night's meeting I sent the following letter to the Mayor and Councillors.   You should know that the Leader and several others have written courteous apologies in reply.  Anyway, here it is  --  so that, if you wish, you can talk about it.   

Esteemed Mr Mayor and Councillors


COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPTEMBER 2010

I take the liberty of forwarding you a link to the points I had intended to make to yourselves this evening.  These I had read at home several times, timing myself not to exceed five minutes.   I would ask that you now please consider the matters that I had so painstakingly prepared.

http://www.friendsofoldtownlibrary.co.uk/Council23Sept2010.htm        [please view website in Explorer]

It was disappointing that in allowing many councillors to make lengthy, detailed points about their dissatisfaction with this or that other Party's political record, members of the public were much more precisely timed out, quite abruptly, if they seemed to be likely to exceed the time allotted to them by a nanosecond, or had failed to couch their comments as a question. 

Almost without exception, the older members of the public were unable to hear or understand what was said because it was articulated so badly and without a nod of recognition that the public should be involved as anything more than bewildered spectators.

Tonight's meeting began with brusqueness, to a gentleman in the gallery.   Rather than that being a one-off aberration, it was compounded by further rude interruptions to what Mary Ratcliffe had carefully prepared to read out to Members.  Mary Ratcliffe,  unlike yourselves a person of a certain cultural distinction, was barked at in a manner that was untoward and offensive.

My personal thanks, of course, to those few who showed interest in the topic of Libraries and who attempted to make useful contributions of whatever nature.

Although the debates on other subjects were of much interest, the hour became very late and the public exhausted.

The alacrity with which a majority of Members agreed not to change the order of the Agenda only underlined the fact that those who had made an effort to come to listen to the matters of special interest to them, were of little significance and, in fact, rather spoiled the political bunfight that Members had come to enjoy.  The public was certainly made to feel "not fit for purpose" and unfortunately none of them was able to witness Councillor Foley's mortification at the manner in which the meeting had been conducted, nor hear her gracious apology to me in the foyer.

Specifically --  and notwithstanding her courtesy with regard to the above  --  those who had come to support the Libraries Petition were not impressed that its wording was deliberately misunderstood by the Lead Member in order to trivialise their concerns.   It seems quite clear that those who signed it were unaware that a degree in Semantics was required in order that they might not find themselves understood to be opposing the work of the RNLI, the WRVS, The Samaritans and other well-organised voluntary bodies, rather than the replacement of staff in  a statutory service, by community volunteers.

The lateness of the hour now dictates that I shall close this message to you all.


With kind regards
I remain

Yours sincerely

Shirley Burnham

Hi Shirley, out of interest - what are your thoughts around council cuts to museums, parks and leisure facilities?
derp derp herp herp derp

Offline Richard Symonds

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Re: Re: COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPT 2011
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2010, 09:22:15 pm »
Welcome to Talk Swindon Shirley, you now have a regular forum in Swindon to promote the Library Service.

At Council last I was pleased to hear Lead Member for Leisure Services Councillor Fionuola Foley say that no Libraries will close and I believe her with the following caveat:

That all the small Libraries will cease to staffed full time and that Volunteers will be expected to come forward and do the majority of the work with support from professional Library staff.  This already happens at Walcot but because of the lack of any other body such as the Community Shop being ready and able to step in this cannot be easily replicated elsewhere.  Anyway as I have said elsewhere I understand that due to a lack of volunteers Walcot Library is now only to be open three days a week.  Hardly the shining success with loans of 200 books (ie 10 per day) that was eulogised in the chamber last night.  If the volunteeers are not forcoming I then I then see a situation where Libraries will in fact be closed.

And one last thing I suggest that no volunteer put their name on the telephone account for any organisation that they volunteer for to ensure they do not get saddled with paying the bill as a means for that organisation to avoid the cost of business line charges.

Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Re: COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPT 2011
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2010, 03:12:06 am »

I listen to Councilor Foleys remarks through a political spin filter. She is, afterall, Rod Bluh's right hand man.

How many times have Mr Bluh and his Bluhligans claimed this forum produced disinformation and lies about his Wifi'asco?....

...and every time he has made that claim we have then proved ourselves to be absolutely correct.


Our record speaks for itself.  Theirs speaks volumes about the rise of political lying in Swindon.
 

Offline Shirley Burnham

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Re: Re: COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPT 2011
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2010, 08:34:21 am »
Someone asked me to comment about museums, parks, libraries etc (leisure services).

I should draw this 'Guardian' article to your attention.   Then read a piece from the Campaign For the Book Newsletter that I have copied below it.   

All these changes in 'provision' of services are of great concern to people who are defending public libraries, including myself.  There seems to be little evidence as to whether services retain their quality or that money is actually saved.


THE GUARDIAN : 22 September

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/22/suffolk-county-council-outsource-services?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter


Extract from Campaign for The Book Newsletter : September
http://www.alangibbons.net

In defence of public services :

Events in three local councils have called into question the current administration’s commitment to directly run public services. Barnet council in north London has earned itself the epithet ‘Easy Council.’ It is considering selling off its libraries and removing 24-hour wardens from its sheltered housing. There are also plans to outsource planning services, crematoriums and environmental health. This has not gone down well with the public or, more worryingly for the council leadership, with external auditors Grant Thornton who have warned that there has been inadequate analysis of the costs and benefits of the privatisation programme.
Brighton and Hove is another council that is determined to outsource services. The most extreme example of all comes from Suffolk however. The Tory-controlled council has approved a plan to outsource most of its services and become an ‘enabling’ council. It plans to cut 30% of its budget. This would involve retaining a core staff to hand out contracts to outside providers who would run the overwhelming majority of services.
This agenda was mooted during the Thatcher years when Nicholas Ridley floated the idea of a virtual council that directly employed very few people. Ridley’s small-stateism was hinted at recently when a firefighter asked if public services would be restored when the public finances recovered. David Cameron answered to the effect that it was the wrong way to think about it.



Offline poemogram

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Re: Re: COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPT 2011
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2010, 09:27:36 am »
I am seriously wondering whether we have to defend libraries to the hilt as the last bastion of community  accessible centres - where public are free to meet public..in the warm and dry paid for by their own poll tax.

Toilets, internet and refreshments are essential and reasonable talking allowed - and open all hours of course - with at least moderate sized meeting spaces

At least this campaign - to invest in libraries - would add the weight and intelligence of library users to the   defence and expansion of community centres always under threat.

More Community Libraries not Less or is that Far More Community Libraries not Fewer !

Offline Drone

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Re: Re: COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPT 2011
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2010, 10:50:06 am »
Someone asked me to comment about museums, parks, libraries etc (leisure services).

I should draw this 'Guardian' article to your attention.   Then read a piece from the Campaign For the Book Newsletter that I have copied below it.   

All these changes in 'provision' of services are of great concern to people who are defending public libraries, including myself.  There seems to be little evidence as to whether services retain their quality or that money is actually saved.


THE GUARDIAN : 22 September

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/22/suffolk-county-council-outsource-services?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter


Extract from Campaign for The Book Newsletter : September
http://www.alangibbons.net

In defence of public services :

Events in three local councils have called into question the current administration’s commitment to directly run public services. Barnet council in north London has earned itself the epithet ‘Easy Council.’ It is considering selling off its libraries and removing 24-hour wardens from its sheltered housing. There are also plans to outsource planning services, crematoriums and environmental health. This has not gone down well with the public or, more worryingly for the council leadership, with external auditors Grant Thornton who have warned that there has been inadequate analysis of the costs and benefits of the privatisation programme.
Brighton and Hove is another council that is determined to outsource services. The most extreme example of all comes from Suffolk however. The Tory-controlled council has approved a plan to outsource most of its services and become an ‘enabling’ council. It plans to cut 30% of its budget. This would involve retaining a core staff to hand out contracts to outside providers who would run the overwhelming majority of services.
This agenda was mooted during the Thatcher years when Nicholas Ridley floated the idea of a virtual council that directly employed very few people. Ridley’s small-stateism was hinted at recently when a firefighter asked if public services would be restored when the public finances recovered. David Cameron answered to the effect that it was the wrong way to think about it.

Thanks for that, Shirley. Parks and museums have suffered huge cuts over the last few years and are now facing a very worrying future. Library users have been very vocal in opposing cuts and closures, but there hasn't been a loud public outcry over other essential cultural services. I guess, in my darker moments, I wonder if the public care that museums and parks could be shut or left to ruin, or they don't realise the challenge that faces these important parts of Swindon's identity.

Also - I'd be very interested to know how you are finding the new Old Town Library/Arts Centre.
derp derp herp herp derp

Offline Shirley Burnham

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Re: Community Libraries Petition - Full Council Meeting : 23rd Sept 2011
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2010, 04:28:13 pm »
This morning, Saturday, I encountered someone in the Arts Centre who was going to use the "new" library for the first time -- a younger person who works and was glad to find it open and a member of library staff there to answer her queries.  So, it seems to be doing well and looks fresh and welcoming.  There are more books than you might expect and two modern computers.   The cafe is smart and its design good;  it will be open for business soon.  The set-up appeals to people.  I, for one, hope it is a great success. 

Offline itspavagain

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Re: Re: COMMUNITY LIBRARIES PETITION - COUNCIL MEETING : 23 SEPT 2011
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2010, 04:55:15 pm »
Toilets, internet and refreshments are essential and reasonable talking allowed - and open all hours of course - with at least moderate sized meeting spaces

McDonalds?

Offline Shirley Burnham

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Re: Community Libraries Petition - Full Council Meeting : 23rd Sept 2011
« Reply #11 on: September 25, 2010, 07:05:07 pm »
I know what you are getting at.   I do not care for all the new trends because I prefer libraries that are recognisable, unadulterated libraries.  But in defending Old Town's,  I was representing a bunch of people who now say they like this set-up.   If I concentrate on my own rather dogmatic views, I would not be doing them any favours.  So I am pragmatic.  This is what we have;  it's not at all bad,  people are using it, and we've kept a staff member for the core hours which makes it a library, not a room.  If you are someone who wants libraries to BE libraries, for heavens sake get in touch with me by e-mail because the struggles have not finished yet by a long chalk and they go far beyond Old Town and the Borough of Swindon.   

Offline Mart

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Re: Community Libraries Petition - Full Council Meeting : 23rd Sept 2011
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2010, 08:21:07 pm »
It goes back to the days in which a count or score of almost any kind was marked up on a convenient surface using chalk. At a pub or ale house this might be a note of the amount of credit you had been given (often called the chalk in the early nineteenth century), which Charles Dickens refers to in Great Expectations: “There was a bar at the Jolly Bargemen, with some alarmingly long chalk scores in it on the wall at the side of the door, which seemed to me to be never paid off.”

But the expression almost certainly comes from the habit of using chalk in such establishments to mark the score in a game, a habit which now survives in British pubs mainly in the game of darts. A chalk was the name given a single mark or score, so that a person might explain that somebody or other had lost a game of skittles by four chalks or you needed 31 chalks to finish. If your opponent had a long chalk, a big score, he was doing well.

The expression indicates a determined intention to continue, though the game is going against you. Your opponent may have a long chalk, but you’re not done for yet.


I don't like shouty librarys, or vicars with guitars.
Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.

Offline Drone

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Re: Community Libraries Petition - Full Council Meeting : 23rd Sept 2011
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2010, 11:11:48 am »
I know what you are getting at.   I do not care for all the new trends because I prefer libraries that are recognisable, unadulterated libraries.  But in defending Old Town's,  I was representing a bunch of people who now say they like this set-up.   If I concentrate on my own rather dogmatic views, I would not be doing them any favours.  So I am pragmatic.  This is what we have;  it's not at all bad,  people are using it, and we've kept a staff member for the core hours which makes it a library, not a room.  If you are someone who wants libraries to BE libraries, for heavens sake get in touch with me by e-mail because the struggles have not finished yet by a long chalk and they go far beyond Old Town and the Borough of Swindon.

The government getting rid of the two main bodies that look after libraries is not a good sign.

I'm very pleased to hear the new Old Town library is being used.
derp derp herp herp derp

Offline Shirley Burnham

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Re: Community Libraries Petition - Full Council Meeting : 23rd Sept 2011
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2010, 07:14:32 am »

 

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