Statement to Open Forum 10 December 2008


which preceded the Swindon Borough Council Cabinet Meeting, 10 December 2008

I am dismayed to learn that Ward Councillors have reneged on their promises to Old Town Library users.

Residents have responded magnificently to their Ward Councillors’ challenge
‘Use It or Lose It’ -- and now feel thoroughly let down.

Statistics show that Old Town Library’s performance this year has exceeded all expectations, thanks to its dedicated staff and enthusiastic supporters.

A pretext for the Council’s current proposals is that 40% of Old Town Library users also use other libraries. This is a deeply cynical use of data. The Library Service is organised to allow its users to use all libraries. Unless we are told what percentage of users throughout the Borough use multiple libraries, this data is meaningless. I would also point out that the 40% figure also reveals that 60% of our users depend uniquely on Old Town Library.

I quote here from a letter to a ward councillor, recently sent by a resident of Old Town:

     “The suggestion that the library be staffed by volunteers may initially seem a
     reasonable one, but it is certainly not practical.  Recruiting, training and rostering
     enough volunteers, all with CRB checks, to fill 36 man-hours each and every
     week, is hardly a viable long-term option.  It also sets a worrying precedent.  If
     residents are expected to perform duties meant to be paid for by their Council Tax
     pounds, what will be next?  Volunteers rostered to collect rubbish?”

Distinguished members:  Old Town becomes more and more dilapidated and its community weakened, by the erosion of its amenities.

I appeal to the whole Council to consider the importance of supporting Old Town Library and not to use this Budget as an excuse to heap more neglect on Old Town.

The library is an essential and vibrant part of our community. I urge you to give it and its excellent staff the respect they deserve and make your economies elsewhere.

Any comments ?

You can contact your Ward Councillors to express your concerns.  Please
Click here
Old Town & Lawn Councillors
and then on the link bearing the Councillor's name
(top left of their Homepage)