Monday 30 July 2012

The response from Harrow Councillor David Perry and my response!

Alan Wylie

Thank you for your email.

Local authorities are facing unprecedented reductions to their budgets
from central Government in the current economic climate. There are some
very difficult choices to make in trying to protect frontline services
- and other authorities across the country and locally have taken the
decision to drastically reduce their library service. Officers are
trying to give Councillors and residents a full range of choices in
Harrow to ensure a stable future for our library service. Looking at
whether it is possible to commission services from other contractors is
one of those options.

However, no final decisions have yet been made. Officers will bring
back a report on the outcome of our tender process later in 2012.
Councillors will then make a decision based on what we think is right
for Harrow.

Can I also point out that in Harrow this year we will be investing in
our Libraries and updating aging computers and networks along with
installing Wi-Fi for the service users (free of charge). So I feel that
the Labour Administration in Harrow is committed not only to improving
our Library Service, but also taking potential steps to protect this
valuable service.


Cllr. David Perry
Marlborough Ward
Portfolio Holder for Community & Cultural Services

My Response;

Dear Cllr Perry,

Thank you for your prompt reply.

I'm fully aware of the financial difficulties that local authorities are facing, I work for one, i also sit on the Unison London Regional Libraries Forum and campaign on a national basis for the preservation of publicly funded and professionally staffed public libraries!

Your reply doesn't answer my main point and that is that you held a consultation with residents and service users and they said no to the outsourcing and privatisation of their library service! What is the point of conducting a consultation if you aren't prepared to listen, it's not surprising that generally the public have a very cynical view of local democracy, and consultations, is it?
What makes this even more puzzling is a statement made in 2009 by
Cllr Bill Stephenson, Leader of Harrow’s Labour Group, in response to proposals by the Conservative administration to outsource leisure service including libraries;

“This is a very serious matter indeed. Many residents will be appalled at the idea of libraries, for example, being outsourced. Councillors, local residents, and arts and sports organisations will want to be fully consulted before any decision is made."

Why have you changed your position?

Also what research have you undertaken, have you or any of the other cllrs visited a privatised library service, have you talked to the frontline staff, talked to the users and analysed how a private firm makes a profit out of one? I have and have seen staff downgraded or made redundant, pay and terms and conditions cut, union recognition ignored, the ratio of qualified professional librarians diminished (Newhall Library in the US run by LSSI has no qualified librarians!); I've seen users views ignored in Wokingham, Croydon/Wandsworth, Hounslow, Greenwich, Santa Clarita, Simi Valley and many more places!

What is vitally important is that libraries remain publicly funded and accountable to service users not shareholders!

If you would like to discuss this issue in more detail i would be very happy to meet with you.


Alan Wylie

the original email

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