Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Boris and the Mystery of the Public Libraries Trust!

In January 2011 the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced that he was planning to create a trust to manage London's threatened Public Libraries;

"Boris Johnson will tonight announce plans to set up a trust to run libraries in London that are at risk of closure.
It would "manage and improve" libraries for councils that could no longer afford to do so."
"The trust would be run by Team London, which is being set up by the Mayor this summer to bring together all his mentoring and volunteering projects.
Banks and individuals will be asked to top up existing funds. Private donors have already contributed £2 million."

It all seemed pretty certain, even Tim Coates thought so, with £2m already secured and Team London ready to be up and running in Summer 2011 but then in an article in March 2011 it states that "he is considering the idea" and that it has now been put forward by the London Councils as part of the London Library Change Programme! Later that year he is spotted at a number of libraries promoting a literacy scheme (as reported in this insightful article on the Heat magazine website!), run by the National Literacy Trust in cooperation with Team London, to help with the promotion he roped in Peter Andre, a bit like promoting fine arts with a painter and decorator! And then in Dec 2011 he launches under the Team London banner the 'Love Libraries' scheme which looks to place 2,000 volunteers, or 'Library Champions', in London's Libraries, but what has happened to the trust and the £2m?
It all seems to have vanished, was it just part of the Boris self-publicity bandwagon?

But Boris does still care about libraries, in April 2012 he offered his support to the Brent campaigners saying;
“I think it is a great shame. It’s very sad what’s happened to the libraries in Brent."
“I have heard about the efforts of the campaigners and various community events they have held to fight for them and I admire them for that.”
but then again it might be seen to be politically advantageous to back a group fighting Brent Council due to it being Labour controlled?
Then in Sep 2012 he opens a new library in Hillingdon (Tory controlled) complete with a Florist, a Starbucks and 2,000 books! (in case you want to buy flowers and a coffee when the books run out!)

All this and 2,000 volunteers, as they say 'actions speak louder than words'!

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