Hope for libraries in Kent

We’re sharing this message from the “Save our public libraries” campaign, Kent.

Until 8 April you can help HOPE for the future triumph austerity-excused cut & burn. There’s still time for you, family and friends to call for a publicly owned library to remain at the heart of each of the 99 proud communities across Kent which currently share our public “efficient & cost effective” library service!

If you haven’t yet:

1) Please read KCC’s consultation document: http://consultations.kent.gov.uk/consult.ti/lraconsultation/view?objectId=13951141#13951141

Decide whether it takes account of the extra costs of a Trust and the risks of an independent organisation outside democratic control (or its failure) then have your say: https://kentcc.firmstep.com/default.aspx/RenderForm/?F.Name=L3gz1GL5h8d&HideAll=1

2) Sign the ‘Save our public libraries’ PETITION  http://tinyurl.com/kentlibs

NB: To sign you have to register. You have to provide your address/postcode/email and then make up your own password (which must contain eight or more characters, including at least one digit and at least one upper case character). So something like Jsmith15 libraries. If you are ready for this it takes just a couple of minutes to register & sign.

3) LIKE  Love Kent Libraries on FACEBOOK facebook.com/LoveKentLibraries …

IF YOU HAVE DONE ALL THESE, THANK YOU. Now, please share the message of hope (for libraries) with your family, friends and contacts across Kent.

Best wishes

‘Save our public libraries’ campaign, Kent

Kent councillors fail to back National Libraries Day

Tomorrow is National Libraries Day, a day of celebration of our public libraries and a reminder both of their importance and of the threats to their existence. With a public consultation on the cards, how many councillors in Kent will be going out in their community and demonstrating their support for public libraries? Well, not many.

We emailed all the councillors in Kent urging them to visit their local library for National Libraries Day. The response was less than impressive. Despite two separate emails, only four councillors confirmed that they would be visiting their local library:

Eric Hotson Conservative
HGR Birkby UKIP
Alan Terry UKIP
Trevor Shonk UKIP

Three UKIP councillors, one Conservative, not a single Labour councillor. That’s four councillors out of a total of a possible 84. A pretty poor turnout. So, does this reveal a certain ambivalence amongst councillors for their local library service? If so, it suggests that the battle to convince councillors that their intention to hand the libraries in Kent to a charitable trust is going to be exceptionally difficult. With a consultation currently taking place, which will undoubtedly endorse the council’s preferred option (regardless of the views expressed in the consultation), it’s disappointing to see so few of those in opposition prepared to make a stand and demonstrate their support.

You can find the contact details for your local councillor here.

If you are heading out for National Libraries Day, we’d love to hear from you! If you have any pictures or stories to share from the day itself, do drop us a line, we’d love to share them and help highlight the love communities feel for their public library service.

CLIK is in the news…

CLIK has made the news. News Shopper picked up on our fortunate stumbling across an interesting job advert that suggested Kent had already decided what the future holds for public libraries across the county. This job advert has become particularly interesting in light of the recent ruling in Lincolnshire where the council appeared to have decided its plans regardless of the outcome of a consultation (Kent County Council has not yet consulted with the public about library service provision across the county).

News Shopper reports:

“The ad has now been pulled but one councillor told News Shopper he was “not very happy” to hear about it being posted online and he is concerned about job cuts under the proposed restructure.”

The council has admitted that the advert was a “mistake” and that “as soon as this was spotted it was withdrawn immediately”. They go on to add:

“Further work is now being done to look at options and assess the viability of these proposals and how they might be implemented.

“No formal decisions have yet been taken and if the recommendations of this process are for a significant change in how libraries currently work, full public consultation will follow.”

Laughable that they are sticking with “if”. We will not be surprised if this route is confirmed following, of course, an entirely balanced consultation that will in no way lead people to accept the model they clearly desire.

Cllr Mike Hill added:

“No firm decisions would be made until a detailed business case is drawn up.”

Of course not Mike. We fully expect you to plot a democratic path, ensuring the people of Kent have a fair say in the future for libraries and we have full confidence that the dice will not be loaded in favour of the Trust model.

We will reserve judgement until we see the consultation. But we have little doubt about how it will be constructed. With little effective opposition, the Council will undoubtedly press ahead with what it wants regardless. Ahhhh…the sweet smell of Kentish democracy…


Labour Councillor Speaks Out

CLIK has also received the following comment from Labour councillor Tom Maddison:

As a Kent County Council Member for Dartford this information is helpful and worrying also.

Library Services are so integral to the communities they serve and the Democratic Local Authority charged with responsibility to provide them it is essential we get things right . We must make sure genuine and proper consultation takes place especially with the public and communities that depend on the service. We must take account of all views expressed before deciding on any major change in the present service model for our Libraries and that would include Trust`s model`s also .

I do worry that paid employment will be lost in favour of volunteers and this is not a proper way to run a Public Service especially Libraries.

CLIK

The fight for Kent’s public library service is about to step up a gear. The council appears to have decided what the future has in store for public libraries across the county, and it’s not good. There will be a long and difficult battle ahead as we seek to ensure that library services are not cut or diminished in any way.

CLIK is one of (hopefully) many groups seeking to highlight the attack on our public library service by the county council. CLIK welcomes volunteers to help in its aim to raise awareness of the future for Kent libraries and to help in the fight against the council’s plans. So, if you:

  • Are experienced in using social media.
  • Have experience of using the WordPress blogging platform.
  • Subscribe to the manifesto developed by Voices for the Library and library supporters across the country.
  • Willing to spend a bit of time each week helping CLIK to rally support for Kent libraries.

Please do get in touch. The more of us that can engage in highlighting and fighting the situation facing Kent libraries, the better.

Likewise, if you are aware of, or are running, a campaign in your part of the county, do get in touch. It’s a large county and can be difficult to get from one part to another. Sharing information across the county is essential.

In such a divided county, public libraries play a vital role in bridging the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest. We cannot allow Kent County Council to smash that bridge and isolate the poorest and most vulnerable in our society yet further.