Saturday 26 January 2013

Is Harrow going to privatise its Library service?

Below is a conversation on Twitter I had yesterday with fellow Library Campaigner Shirley Burnham about Harrow Council's plans for its Library service, and their response;

Shirley Burnham@ShirleyBurnham

"great improvements" to libs promised in Harrow (hope these don't incl any *hollowing out* or staff losses)
Alan Wylie@wylie_alan
no privatise but you didn't hear it from me!
Shirley Burnham@ShirleyBurnham
Yours is a valid Libraries question for I trust they will respond. Or that will ask them

Borough of Harrow@harrow_council
Thanks for getting in touch. This is just one of the options, we have to explore different proposals in order to run as efficient a service as possible & keep libraries open. Discussions are continuing & more details will follow in the near future.

It's no secret that Harrow (and Ealing) have been considering the option of privatisation for some time see my full correspondence with them on this matter
the worrying thing is that it's Labour Councillors who are pushing this!



  1. Don't have any illusions that Labour will save your libraries - just look at the disgraceful actions of neighbouring Brent - 6 out of 12 libraries closed and a 7th being demolished to make way for a tiny "Cultural Centre". I've lost count of the number of people I've spoken to in Brent who say they'll never vote Labour again because of this. I hope Harrow don't follow their example.

  2. Thanks for your comment 'anonymous', what you say is true we can't rely on Labour to save libraries but you would hope that a party with such strong links to the union movement would at least stand out against privatisation, not that there is any proof of this if you look at their record so maybe it's time for the unions to stop funding them?

  3. As a member of UNISON in Harrow I know the Branch is fighting behind the scenes to prevent the outsource which is why I suspect it has been delayed a month. The savings as in Ealing are minimal, outsource eases future library closures and the intake of volunteers will undermine the pay and jobs of contractual employees. The branch has reminded the Harrow Labour Group of its election pledge to oppose privatisation and keep services in house and have opposed the plans outright. As a member I have a feeling that there is any the appetite or "bottle" to privatise one of the best library services in the country but we wait and see. Come on UNiSON!

    1. thanks for your very insightful comment 'Harrow Unison Member' (or anonymous). I know my fellow comrades in Ealing and Harrow are fighting tooth and nail to keep their services in-house and publicly managed and as you say "come on Unison".
      What does amaze me, but maybe it shouldn't, is that out of the 6 authorities who have either gone ahead with, or are proposing to, privatise their library services they are all in London and 4 are labour! What the hell is going on?

  4. The outsource has been delayed again in Harrow but this time due to a group of nine Labour Cllrs forming an Independent Labour Group. This has created havoc, stopped all Council business and has left the door open for the Tory Group to be the lead party and take control of the Council. The break away group haven't left on policy grounds eg against privatisation but on purely self interest in support of the current leader who was recently deposed by Cllr Perry. Tory blogs linking the issue to a race row as all nine are from ethnic communities and new leader is white and who, incidentally, has come out in press in support of libraries outsource. More updates to follow. Your friend Anonomous!