1 Library + 1 Landmark Library = 1 LibraryPosted: October 31, 2012
No, two libraries.
No, one. What? Yes, you’re probably about as confused as I am!
Cllr Robert Rams – Cabinet Member of Customer Services and Partnerships at the London Borough of Barnet announced, on his blog, of all places, that there would be no Landmark Library at the Arts Depot. Instead the ‘Landmark Library’ would be moved into the North Finchley library site.
A proposed library that won a £1m bid fund from the Mayor’s Outer London fund, plus a further £400,000 Council contribution is now going to be moved into already existing library premises? Please, Rams. This is going beyond Yes Ministerial ridiculousness and is simply insulting to your average resident you are purporting to represent.
Now onto more serious matters. There is a statutory duty under the Museums and Libraries Act of 1964 to provide ‘comprehensive and efficient library services’.
This decision now calls into the question the issue of whether library service as it currently exists will now be adequate as the main mitigating factor for closing Friern Barnet Library is removed.
Cllr Rams mentions that there will be no discussion surrounding the provision of library services in the Friern Barnet library area until the case relating to the possession of Friern Barnet library is concluded. The date for this hearing has been set for the 18th/19th December – but if the Council fail to make their case there is a possibility the claim will be struck out and will drag on.
And all throughout this delay, who suffers? The children for whom time is absolutely of the essence when it comes to education, the elderly people who use such services as community hubs, and more generally, your average squeezed-middle or low income resident who pays their tax precisely for the purpose of getting some decent public service provision. They’re not going to be impressed with the suggestion that they are going to have to drive for miles to get somewhere with a library at all; or the suggestion that somewhere a £1.4 m fund that they have paid for has vanished into thin air.
I think residents will be interested to see just what Rams had to say about the provision of library services in the local area in May of this year to me, and compare that to his behaviour on the educational opportunities agenda now (including attempting to desperately shut down a perfectly effective community library running with over 6000 books, music gigs, and scheduled to have a book signing attended by Will Self – for the politically selfish reason that it will help him to save face):
In this tweet exchange he clearly links the promise and the expectation there will be a Landmark Library with the closure of Friern Barnet library.
‘Oh, we’re closing Friern Barnet library, but we’re opening a swish new one in its place’ is the general tenor of his statement. That residents will have neither, and that Cllr Rams is so keen to evict those who are taking steps to use an empty public building to provide an effective library service feels rather like a double, no, triple – punch in the stomach.
Big Society, Eric, Dave, Cornelius and Rams? What Big Society?