Leicestershire County Council have announced their plans to reduce the opening hours of 16 larger libraries and have the remaining 36 libraries run by volunteers. There is a consultation at www.leics.gov.uk – if you’re local, please take a few minutes to give your view.
This is essentially the death blow to the library service in Leicestershire.
There are 33 executives that make up the senior management at Leicestershire County Council. Their combined pay totals £3060,00.00.
If the maximum salary was capped at £75K there would be in excess of £585,00.00 back in the budget to provide essential services to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people.
The saving estimated from cutting 36 libraries and reducing the opening hours of the remaining 16 is just £800,00.00. Far, far less than the pay of the top 33 people. Is this fair?
When the Council previously consulted on cuts, they asked people to decide which essential services they would prioritise and which they would cut. There was no option to “Reduce executive pay”.
Several years ago I met with David Parsons, then Leader of the County Council (now disgraced over expenses irregularities, and currently standing for UKIP), to discuss cuts to library services. He told me that in a time of austerity we must all make difficult choices and hard sacrifices. Then he left – in his chauffeur-driven Jaguar.
Now Richard Blunt, cabinet member for libraries, says: “We are going to have to do things differently, in the face of £110 million savings across the council.”
I agree absolutely – let the highest paid make a sacrifice for a change, rather than the poorly paid library staff who will lose their jobs, and the most vulnerable members of our communities who need the support of libraries the most.
Even if you don’t use your local public library, please participate in the consultation, and please share this post – we have to fight to save our services. There is an e-petition you can sign too (you will have to register before you can sign.)
In case you’re wondering why the Council’s proposals, in particular staffing libraries with volunteers only, are making me so angry, I’ll be blogging over the coming weeks about the fight to save Leicestershire Libraries and explaining why I think the Council’s plans are fatally flawed. Watch this space.