Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Ealing Gazette readers say no to Library Privatisation


According to a quick poll (see below) in the Ealing Gazette the overwhelming majority of people who read the paper have said no to Library Privatisation, so why are the Council pushing ahead with it? A Council that has come out openly against the privatisation of the NHS!


Quick Vote

Is Ealing Council right to involve a private company in running the borough's libraries if it will save money?

see http://www.ealinggazette.co.uk/ealing-news/local-ealing-news/2013/05/22/private-company-set-to-run-ealing-libraries-64767-33369205/

Library of Birmingham – round one to us - CATC - 28/05/13


For everyone who missed the article in the Birmingham Mail yesterday, Birmingham City Council has been put the defensive in a big way with its plans to privatise Birmingham’s new central Library. Our campaigning is paying off."

Cllr Pollard doubts his own decision on #Croydon libraries - Save Croydon Libraries - 28/05/13


"According to a press release that was only uploaded over the bank holiday weekend, Cllr Tim Pollard is calling his own decision in for scrutiny."

"Having raised questions as to why Cllr Pollard was so shy to announce his decision, taken late before a bank holiday weekend at the start of Croydon school's half-term break, with local residents also raising questions and Croydon Labour threatening to cancel the contract should they gain power in 2014, it seems even Cllr Pollard has lost his nerve and called his own decision in for scrutiny.

You really could not make it up!"

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Privatisation of Ealing Libraries (with an update)

Last night i attended a lobby against the privatisation of Ealing Libraries. The lobby, organised by Ealing Unison, took place outside the Town Hall and was well attended with a healthy mixture of Trade Unionists, staff and community activists turning up.

Statement from Ealing Unison on proposals to privatise the Borough's Libraries


On 21st May 2013 Ealing Council will be voting to privatise the Library Service. John Laing Integrated Services have been recommended as the preferred bidder. Ealing Unison and its members in the Library Service are urging the Council not to support this recommendation.
We are concerned that there has been no public consultation with Library users about how their service should be run. We fail to understand the indecent haste with which Ealing Council is happy to off-load a much loved service to the private sector. We fear that the public service ethos that has served the people of Ealing and their Library Service over many years will be replaced by the rapacious demands of the market place and the balance sheet. This, we feel, will inevitably lead to future job losses and a further dumbing down and hollowing out of the service, as old library buildings bequeathed to the people of Ealing by philanthropists such as John Passmore Edwards and Andrew Carnegie, are sold off to property speculators and replaced and relocated in the reception rooms of leisure centres and swimming pools.
We appreciate that Ealing along with many other councils has been placed in a difficult financial position by the coalition government, who are happy to make the public sector and the people who rely on these services, pay for the crimes of the banksters and tax avoiding spivs who created the current crisis. however, not many councils, even those under Conservative administration, have taken the decision to privatise their Library Services.
Why is the Labour council in Ealing in such a hurry? Ealing Council has been vocal in it's support of the campaign against privatisation in the NHS. It would therefore be a contradiction for them to support the privatisation of its Library Service. the record also shows that all the services that have been privatised in Ealing in the last fifteen years have failed in private hands and have been brought back "in-house".
the 250k savings that the council is seeking to make from the Library Service constitutes a tiny percentage of the overall council budget and will make little impression on the amount Ealing will have to find over the next few years. Ealing Council does however spend around £18m per annum on consultants fees and employing agency staff. Ealing Council is also in the fortunate position of sitting on a large reserve, of around £65m, which could be used to mitigate any cuts to services, all of which calls in to question the necessity of privatising the Library Service!

for an update on this story see;

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Sumter may privatize library operations - Daily Commercial - 18/5/13


"Sumter County wants to close the books on municipal library operations, opting instead for a private company to provide these services.

County officials are thinking about contracting the job to Library Systems and Services of Germantown, Md., saying it would improve the seven-library system by adding services such as eBooks and downloadable music."

"Friends of the Panasoffkee Community Library and a number of Sumter residents don’t see it that way. They fear services will go down and fees will go up."

"The Osceola County Commission recently privatized its library services and Lake County commissioners will discuss doing so, too, during a workshop next month, possibly on June 4 or June 18. In an earlier interview, Lake County Manager David Heath said Osceola officials have seen some savings, but not as much as they thought they were going to get."

Thursday, 16 May 2013

A Public Appeal to stop the privatisation of the Library of Birmingham - CATC - 15/5/13


"This appeal was issued alongside the press release we made on Sunday, the 28th April. However, the day after we issued the press release, the Council Press Office issued its own press release stating that the tendering had been cancelled. On the Tuesday, the Council refused to debate with us on the Adrian Goldberg show (Radio WM), but Adrian also confirmed that the process had been halted, at least for the time being. We see this as a temporary action only (see the article “Rebutting the Rebuttal” below), so the campaign to keep this public investment public must continue. We would be very pleased to receive a comment to this article from the Council saying that this whole rotten process was being abandoned. If not, then silence will speak volumes."

The article referred to above:

Library and Leisure Services to be Contracted Out - Ealing Today - 16/5/13


"A meeting of Ealing Council on 21st May is to be asked to rubber stamp a proposal to contract out library and leisure services in the borough.

If the plan is approved, John Laing Ltd. will take over the running of the library service. They already run the libraries in Hounslow and Harrow and the latter borough would act as the client on behalf of London Borough of Ealing in what would be a shared contract."

Just to remind everyone that there is a lobby against the privatisation proposals outside Ealing Town Hall on 21/5/13 at 6.30pm.

I've seen the future; David Ruse and the Tri-borough experiment!

"I’ve seen the future, I’ve seen the future, I’ve seen the future.
It’s a cold and empty place,
It’s a mind without a face."

More lyrics: http://www.lyricsmania.com/ive_seen_the_future_lyrics_disco_ensemble.html
All about Disco Ensemble: http://www.musictory.com/music/Disco+Ensemble

On Tuesday night I attended a talk hosted by those nice folks at CILIP London, who by the way put on a very good show, entitled 'Merging library authorities: challenges and opportunities' given by David Ruse, Tri-borough Director of Libraries and Archives.
David has worked for Westminster for 20+ years and took over the his present role of managing the Library and Archive services of Westminster, Hammersmith & Fulham and Kensington & Chelsea 3 years ago.
I won't go into the mechanics of the Tri-borough experiment, more detail can be found at:
The audience was a mixed bunch that included young trainee librarians looking for CPD accreditation, retired librarians, senior managers from Harrow, Ealing, Bromley and Bexley (I wonder why?) and a couple of campaigners.
David started his talk by telling us that without the move to the Tri-borough model there would have been“huge redundancies and closures”, that it was “a fantastic opportunity to re-position libraries” and that he was responsible for a budget of £16m, 360FTE staff and 21 sites. He then went on to say that 10 senior management posts had been cut to 4, the stock team had been reduced and that there was only 1 children’s specialist in the service and this 'delayering' means that there are only 5 strata of management between a library assistant and himself.
Someone asked him how many professional staff were now in the system but he couldn't give a figure but strangely he knew that they had between 300-400 volunteers"not substituting but assisting" who worked 15,000 hrs last year!
One very interesting point is that paid staff are shared between the boroughs under Section 113 of the Local Government Act 1972, David said that they had looked at TUPEing staff over to Westminster, the lead borough, and ‘salary harmonisation’ but use Section 113 instead. All this had led to savings of £1.237m.

He was also asked about redundancies and said that 30 FTE staff had“been let go” and only 1 of them was compulsory, he said that self-serve had led to staff cuts, finally a senior manager who will openly admit this, but“without any detrimental effect on the service”.
He then launched into neoliberal overdrive with talk of“our product is still the same”, “great opportunity to re-position libraries”,“knowing your baseline” and a new one on me “knowledge capture”. If he had been a time share salesman I would at this point quite happily have signed up for a year’s worth.
He then talked about staff motivation and how they had been consulted and“engaged” at every point of process, “lots of consultation and meetings”, that“staff feedback was important” and that the unions had had “strong involvement” in the process and“no disputes”. I then raised the matter of the open letter published recently by the staff at Westminster Libraries which challenged his rosy view of the experiment, he said“I can’t explain the letter”, “it wasn’t from all the staff but from a few over-enthusiastic individuals” and that the“facts stated in the letter were wrong” but he did say that the last staff survey showed a drop in motivation and morale but“it’s going up again”, so a slightly contradictory answer.
Also from the feedback I've had his rosy view doesn't represent that on the front line, like every where else the Tri-borough authorities are running their services at, or below, minimum staffing levels, with fewer professional staff, low morale/motivation and less resources, and this, from what I've heard, hasn't improved because of Tri-borough it's got worse. Keeping the library doors open is one thing, the old "we're not closing libraries" smokescreen, but properly staffing and resourcing them is another.
He then mentioned the LLCP in relation to whether we could “afford to have 33 individual boroughs running 33 library services” and that discussions had taken place between himself, others and City Hall but“I’m not pitching for power, well not yet anyway".
So what about the future? He said that more savings would have to be made but he couldn’t discuss the details as he“hadn’t discussed them with his staff yet” but he did say that they would be looking at saving money by employing "sharper procurement" practises.
I came away from it feeling very depressed and deflated, I don’t share his vision of retail/market led library services that grow bigger and bigger and thus further removed from local communities, my vision is of a national branch network of local libraries that operate on a mandate based on ‘social equity’, empowerment, real community involvement (not 'community libraries') and public sector ethos? Time to re-train as a plumber i think!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The LGA and ‘non-statutory’ Public Libraries

Library Campaigners were aghast recently at yet another announcement made by the LGA stating that Public Libraries were a ‘non-statutory’ service.

"The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents council leaders, has "mapped out" the likely impact of a 10% funding cut to county councils and unitary authorities in England in 2015-16.
It predicts that, on average, they would have to save £30m on top of the reductions already made.
This, it argues, would mean reducing spending on a "broad combination of non-statutory services which might include children's centres, museums, libraries and sports centres, as well as reduce road maintenance budgets, increase bus fares and switch off streetlights between midnight and dawn"."

This isn’t the first time they’ve made this claim, in a Bookseller article from 2010 a LGA spokesperson stated;


"A spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA) said: “Library services are a non-statutory service in that councils are not legally obliged to provide a library in every town. They have to provide a service, but there doesn't need to be a library—you could provide a mobile library, for example. Councils are legally obliged to provide other services, such as protecting vulnerable children and adults, and they are very expensive. We have a 28% reduction in funding over four years, so popular non-statutory services like libraries and leisure centres are being reduced. But it is very much a local decision and all councils will consult with local residents." The spokesperson added: “We have to be honest with people. We can't pretend we will be able to provide the same level of service in future"

If it’s said often enough and by an official ‘respected’ organisation then other people start to believe it as well;

"On public services, upper-tier councils predict that adult social care is the service most likely to be severely affected by funding cuts, despite the announcement of additional funding streams worth £2bn by central government. Almost every council will be cutting back a range of non-statutory services too, from libraries to weekly bin collections."

And then it gets out into the twitter sphere, Jack Blanchard from the Yorkshire Post tweeting;
"Libraries, art galleries & other non-statutory services provided by councils will face 80% cuts by 2020, LGA believeshttp://tinyurl.com/b2xbm94"

Now I’m sure that anyone that knows the LGA’s attitude to defending Public Libraries won’t be surprised by these announcements, clearly shown by this comment made by Chris White, but what they might not know is that the LGA, in cahoots with the DCLG, has been actively lobbying to have, as they see it, the ‘burden’ of statutory duties lessened for local authorities and yep you guessed it this includes the 1964 Act.
The LGA makes no bones about this, in one of their reports from 2012 they state;

"Councils cannot, unaided, change the legal

or institutional framework that dictates their

service responsibilities, limits their scope

to do things differently, and constrains their

revenue base. Councils cannot repeal

the statute law that requires care must be

provided, library service provision must be

comprehensive and efficient, roads must

be maintained, equality must be promoted,

or – even – that local newspapers must be

provided with copies of papers for council


"The most direct option is to change the

law. Parliament could repeal a proportion

of councils’ 1300 statutory duties and

councils would cease to fulfil them.

A variation on this approach would be to

exploit legal ambiguities to stretch the

boundaries of what fulfilling a statutory

service obligation involves. Councils could

work with their communities to develop a

shared and reduced set of expectations

about what a park should look like or what

the condition of a well-maintained road

should be. As the latter example illustrates,

though, providing “thinner” rather than fewer

services carries legal and moral risks, as well

as political ones."


Another report from 2012 states;


4. Could councils stop providing some services?

“One way of bridging the gap between expenditure and income would be for local authorities to stop or radically reduce the provision of some services. The kind of provision which is likely to be most under threat as the squeeze described above continues will include coastal protection, economic development, youth services, elections, licensing, recycling, swimming pools, leisure centres, libraries, planning and housing regulation. Such provision is not unimportant, but it is unlikely to be protected if budgets decline as projected on the basis of existing plans and social care expenditure is maintained. Of course, it has always proved difficult for councils to cease providing services. There is a risk of legal challenge and the possibility that local MPs or ministers would oppose such radical change. But if the scenario outlined above comes about, it is hard to see how all the services listed above could be protected. Unhelpfully, some of this provision is important to the promotion of growth.”

So it all becomes a bit clearer then, if you keep pushing the message that Public Libraries are ‘non-statutory’ then it becomes easier to pull the rug from under them thus allowing local authorities to close, cut and divest them.
see also;

Friday, 10 May 2013

Savage cuts proposed to Herefordshire's Libraries

The shocking news from Herefordshire CC is that staff have been told that the libraries budget may be cut by 75-80%, that many will lose their jobs and if the proposals go through then only one library would remain open? There is also talk of volunteers and privatisation.
If this does happen it would be a tragedy and a stern test of the 1964 Act.

for more detail see:

Please show your support and sign the petition at;

Save Herefordshire's Libraries

Save Herefordshire's Libraries


Thursday, 9 May 2013

Rebutting the Rebuttal: update on the Library of Birmingham privatisation - Communities Against The Cuts


 "The Newsroom of Birmingham City Council issued a public rebuttal on 29th April, in response to media reports about the ‘outsourcing’ of the new Library of Birmingham. The rebuttal does nothing of the sort and instead raises further questions about the procurement process to privatise running of the new Library of Birmingham (LoB)."


Library outsourcing decision delayed due to Labour split - Harrow Observer - 09/05/13


"A DECISION whether to outsource the running of Harrow's libraries to a not-for-profit trust has been delayed due to the collapse of the cabinet committee.
Councillors were meant to meet this evening to discuss whether to hand the day-to-day management of 11 branches to the John Laing Integrated Services in order to save money and improve visitor numbers.
However, the cabinet committee meeting was cancelled after the announcement yesterday that nine Labour councillors, including the leader of the council, Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar, were splitting to form their own Independent Labour group. Consequently, the other portfolio holders comprising the cabinet, all now rival Labour group members, were dismissed."

for more on this see the new comment by 'anonymous' at;


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

JLIS preferred bidder for Harrow and Ealing Libraries contract

JLIS have been named as preferred bidder for the Harrow and Ealing Libraries contract. Harrow Council is voting on the proposal on 9/5/13 and Ealing on the 21/5/13. If it is approved the 5 year contract will start on 01/09/13.
See http://www.harrow.gov.uk/www2/mgIssueHistoryHome.aspx?IId=75999&AIID=82214

There will be a lobby of Ealing Council at the Town Hall on the 21/5/13 at 6.30pm

Friday, 3 May 2013

AB 583 (Gomez) Model Support Letter - Everylibrary.org

'EVERYLIBRARY' is lobbying to close a loophole in state law relating to the privatisation of public library services in California stemming from the AB438 Bill that was passed last year.

see below the model letter they are asking organisation and individuals to sign


"Basically, you just need to ask the Assembly Member to support AB 583 and close the loopholes that allow cities to privatize their libraries without transparency and public involvement."

for more on AB438 see my previous posts on the subject;

and for AB583 see;

"Would provide, until January 1, 2019, that a board of trustees, common council, or other legislative body of a city or the board of trustees of a library district in which a withdrawal from the county free library system becomes effective on or after January 1, 2012, shall comply with certain requirements before entering into a contract to operate the city's or library district's library or libraries with a private contractor that will employ library staff to achieve cost savings. The bill would make conforming and nonsubstantive changes. This bill contains other existing laws."