Thursday, 15 January 2015

Brent, Peterborough, Stoke-on-Trent & a fish riding a bicycle!


"Under proposals by the town hall, Ealing Road, Harlesden, Kilburn, Kingsbury, Wembley and Willesden Green Library Centre will be handed over to an outside organisation.
The council is hoping a charity will agree to manage the libraries as their status makes them eligible for an 80 per cent rebate on business rate, this would save the town hall £160,000.
However other tenders from private operators would be considered."
"Margaret Bailey, chair of Friends of Kensal Rise Library, a group set up to fight the closure, said: “Libraries, like many other services, should not be subjected to notions of profit or market forces and privatising often results in costing more."
So just 3 years after closing 6 libraries Brent Council decide that since the remaining ones are doing so well they might as well privatise them and all for the paltry sum of £160k, that's a senior officers annual salary or a consultancy firm's monthly fee.
Budget 2015/16: No Peterborough libraries to shut - a classic doublespeak headline, what it really means is that no library buildings will close but they're hollowing out the service.
"No libraries will be shut in Peterborough but job losses are possible under new proposals.

The plans would see libraries open for 50 per cent longer with residents able to use self-service technology when staff are not there.
The 10 libraries in Peterborough would stay open for 386 hours compared to the 261 they are now.
However, the number of hours the libraries are staffed would reduce from 261 to 149.
No details have been given on potential staff reductions."
The article goes on to mention 'Open +' "self-service technology", see my blog from April 14 for more on this;
The article ends with the immortal;
Councillor Lucia Serluca, cabinet member for city centre management, culture and tourism, said: “We have listened to what people have told us and used this to develop a library service for the future.”
Yes Cllr Serluca i'm sure that those consulted said that they wanted less staff and bank style foyers with security cameras.
Stoke-on-Trent Council officials and councillors have a new 'co-operative working model' which means that they can issue 220 of their staff with 'section 188 notices' telling them that their posts have been deleted with a clear conscience knowing that what they are doing is adhering to 'co-operative' principles. Or so they like to tell themselves as they twist and turn at night trying to get to sleep!
Do you ever come across an article that you wish you had written yourself because it totally sums up how you feel about a topic? Well recently this article appeared in The Guardian;

Trying to run a public service like a business will never work

A public service is an inherently different beast from a business and asking one to behave as the other is like asking a fish to ride a bicycle

"One of the greatest myths of our time is that public services can be made more efficient if we run them as businesses. The commercialisation of our public services has been a manifest failure, and the response offered by the mainstream parties is that we simply haven’t commercialised them enough.
Having spent years attempting to fix broken projects and teams within the NHS and local government, and also in the private sector, what I have learned is this: a public service and a business are inherently different beasts and asking one to behave as the other is like asking a fish to ride a bicycle.
The clue is in the name: the primary aim of a public service is to provide a service to the public – to protect crucial social utilities from the instabilities of capitalism and to avoid negative social impacts."

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