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;

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