Letter from Shirley Burnham to Swindon's Mayor and Councillors :
24th September


Apology from Council Leader : 24th September

The Leader, Councillor Bluh, has written to say how unhappy he was with the conduct of the meeting and sent his apologies, for which we are grateful.

Shirley's letter to the Mayor and Councillors after the Council Meeting : 23rd September 2010

Esteemed Mr Mayor and Councillors


I take the liberty of forwarding you a link to the points I had intended to make to yourselves this evening.  These I had read at home several times, timing myself not to exceed five minutes.  I would ask that you now please consider the matters that I had so painstakingly prepared.

www.friendsofoldtownlibrary.co.uk/Council23Sept2010.htm     [please view website in Explorer]

It was disappointing that in allowing many councillors to make lengthy, detailed points about their dissatisfaction with this or that other Party's political record, members of the public were much more precisely timed out, quite abruptly, if they seemed to be likely to exceed the time allotted to them by a nanosecond, or had failed to couch their comments as a question.

Almost without exception, the older members of the public were unable to hear or understand what was said because it was articulated so badly and without a nod of recognition that the public should be involved as anything more than bewildered spectators.

Tonight's meeting began with brusqueness, to a gentleman in the gallery.  Rather than that being a one-off aberration, it was compounded by further rude interruptions to what Mary Ratcliffe had carefully prepared to read out to Members.  Mary Ratcliffe, unlike yourselves a person of a certain cultural distinction, was barked at in a manner that was untoward and offensive.

My personal thanks, of course, to those few who showed interest in the topic of Libraries and who attempted to make useful contributions of whatever nature.

Although the debates on other subjects were of much interest, the hour became very late and the public exhausted.

The alacrity with which a majority of Members agreed not to change the order of the Agenda only underlined the fact that those who had made an effort to come to listen to the matters of special interest to them, were of little significance and, in fact, rather spoiled the political bunfight that Members had come to enjoy.  The public was certainly made to feel "not fit for purpose" and unfortunately none of them was able to witness Councillor Foley's mortification at the manner in which the meeting had been conducted, nor hear her gracious apology to me in the foyer.

Specifically -- and notwithstanding her courtesy with regard to the above -- those who had come to support the Libraries Petition were not impressed that its wording was deliberately misunderstood by the Lead Member in order to trivialise their concerns.   It seems quite clear that those who signed it were unaware that a degree in Semantics was required in order that they might not find themselves understood to be opposing the work of the RNLI, the WRVS, The Samaritans and other well-organised voluntary bodies, rather than the replacement of staff in a statutory service, by community volunteers.

The lateness of the hour now dictates that I shall close this message to you all.

With kind regards
I remain

Yours sincerely

Shirley Burnham