Oh dear. “Kent County Council is transforming the way it delivers its services as well as reducing costs.”
I’m quoting from the KCC website here: the Libraries, Registration and Archive Service Consultation page, which links to the consultation document about the future of our public libraries.
It all sounds very nice. To quote from the document itself: “We strive to continually affect people’s lives in a positive way and deliver services for every community in Kent”. What can be wrong with that?
Well nothing, obviously. What these soothing words do is to mask the real reason behind the consultation document: saving money.
If you want to know the purpose behind the government’s austerity programme, then look no further than this. As a policy it has utterly failed to reduce the deficit. Instead it has increased the deficit and made us all poorer.
What it has done, however, is to serve as an excuse for an all-out attack upon our public services.
Once the library service has been handed over to a Charitable Trust, as KCCs consultation document proposes, can we be assured that it will still be the same service?
Will we continue to have democratic influence over the way the service operates?
Will we be able to complain to our KCC Councillors about problems, about proposed closures or cuts or reduced opening hours? Will our Councillors be able to do anything about it if we do complain?
Will free local libraries – open to all and linked to others across the county – be guaranteed? Will minimum levels of properly-trained and paid staff be set for all Kent’s libraries?
Will the number of books and computers be increased or decreased? Will the availability of other information be improved?
If the Trust fails or proves unsatisfactory, will we be able to take the library service back into public hands?
These are just some of the questions you might like to ask. If you value your library service, please go to the KCC website and take a look at the proposals.
It might be your last chance to have your say over the way our libraries are run.