Library losses and a strange ‘volunteer’ thing happening in Sefton Borough

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35707956“>www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-35707956

The BBC has the story on its web site – see link above

Fighting for Southport's Libraries

Fighting for Southport’s Libraries

If you type in ‘Sefton’ in the box on the BBC web site article to gain information about your own local authority the following comes up:-

In Sefton since 2010 seven libraries and/or mobile libraries have closed. In 2010 there were 137 paid staff in libraries, compared with 58 now. The council had 80 unpaid volunteers in 2010 and has 164 volunteers today.

rsz_al_collins_at_a_save_aintree_library_public_meeting_on_26th_october_12_2

Now then the interesting and probably astounding thing here (assuming the BBC information is correct) is that the number of volunteers working in Sefton’s remaining libraries has risen substantially over the past 6 years, indeed it has doubled! But why is this a surprise? Well back in the turmoil of Bootle Labour closing Sefton’s libraries 2 or 3 years ago they made it very clear that they did not want volunteers helping to run libraries! The link below is to pertinent blog posting of mine from back in 2014:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2014/02/23/we-simply-do-not-want-volunteers-to-run-council-services-what-other-conclusion-can-you-come-to/

rsz_orrell_library_5

So where does this leave us? The big questions are:-

* Has Labour-run Sefton ditched its opposition to library volunteers? If so when did they make this most welcome policy shift?

* If the volunteers wanting to take over the running of Aintree and College Road Libraries were unacceptable, why was this the case when the Council has seemingly gone on to recruit other volunteers?

* Why were Bootle Labour so opposed to the volunteers running closing libraries in the first place? Or is it more subtle than that in that some volunteers are deemed to be OK whilst others were deemed to be the opposite?

The murky world of Labour-run Sefton Council means we will probably not be getting any answers soon. And that is so sad.

Liverpool saves its libraries, so why did Sefton close its libraries?

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-29985668

The BBC has the story – see link above

Having worked with campaigners across the Borough of Sefton who were trying to stop the closure of many branch libraries I am left scratching my head. Why can Labour-run Liverpool City Council save its libraries from closure whilst in neighbouring Sefton Borough not only did the Labour-run Council close more than half of its libraries but it also stopped volunteers from running closed libraries too.

Sadly this placard could also read 'NO' to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

Sadly this placard could also read ‘NO’ to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

I realise that Liverpool Labour Mayor Joe Anderson was put under a great deal of pressure in Liverpool, not least by Liverpool Lib Dems and Liverpool residents, to back-off from his closure plans but that sort of pressure was also put on Sefton Council’s Labour rulers.

We all know that Council’s are short of money these days but if you can keep a strong and vibrant library network in Liverpool you can surely keep one in next door Sefton.

And for joyful reactions to the saving of Liverpool’s libraries see this link to the Liverpool Echo site:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/pictures-liverpool-users-react-news-8086020

Library closures in Liverpool – Let’s hope those wanting to save them are given the chance to do so

Remember Sefton Council going through this process and how badly I said it treated volunteers wishing to take over College Road Library (Crosby) and Aintree Library?

/www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/proposals-rescue-liverpool-libraries-come-7906866

The Liverpool Echo has the story (see link above) of how folks are trying to save Liverpool’s threatened libraries.

Sadly this placard could also read 'NO' to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

Sadly this placard could also read ‘NO’ to volunteers taking over Aintree Library!

I hope Liverpool’s elected Mayor Joe Anderson has more confidence in volunteers wanting to take over libraries than Sefton Labour did when they dismissed the volunteer bids in an appalling way.

Sefton Central Area Committee meeting held yesterday

Don’t worry, this is not another rant about the ridiculous size of this enormous Area Committee, it’s a report on a few of the interesting things that happened at the meeting held in Formby.

In reality the agenda was rather dry but the questions from the public were of more interest:-

LIBRARIES – Independent Aintree Village Parish Councillors Peter Gill and Bill Honeyman asked questions about the future of the now closed (by Labour) Aintree & College Road Libraries. The answer Peter Gill got, drafted by an officer of the Sefton Council, was something along the lines of we do not know what we are going to do with the buildings or when. Frankly, the 3 line written answer was insulting to campaigners in Aintree and Crosby who have done all they can to both save their local libraries and run and them with volunteers. Labour had already ensured that neither would happen.

What’s more Bill Honeyman had submitted his question on the 14th April and he still awaits an answer after being told last night that investigations would take place as to why he had not been sent/given a response!

You got impression that the Labour councillors at the meeting found Peter & Bill and their questions about as welcome as snow at Harvest! I told the meeting that they were entitled to a proper answers but I wonder if and when that will happen?

ELECTION OF INDEPENDENT CLLR. MARIA BENNETT – A member of the public from Formby asked whether the main political parties would work with Maria. A bland answer from a Labour member was followed by me saying yes, I and my Lib Dem Group on the Council would work with her, indeed we welcome her election.

GREEN BELT – A member of the public from Maghull asked if the Labour dominated Area Committee would listen to the public of the Borough and oppose the draft Local Plan for Sefton which proposes to build on acres of Green Belt and high grade agricultural land.

This question also seemed to go down like a lead balloon with the Labour members, a representative of whom said in effect said they would not comment as they may be perceived as pre-judging the issue. In other words he got no answer.

A similar question from a Formby resident got a similar response.

At the end of the public questions it seemed to me that the Labour comrades had seen off another attack by impertinent members of the Sefton Borough community with the score being Labour at least 10, residents Nil. As an exercise in local democracy where the public try to hold their elected representatives to account it was far from inspiring.

You know what I will be doing today – Voting Liberal Democrat

Lib Dems fighting for Sefton's Libraries

Lib Dems fighting for Sefton’s Libraries

Fighting Labour's proposed £46 Green Bin Tax on Sefton households households.

Fighting Labour’s proposed £46 Green Bin Tax on Sefton households.

Working with the community to try to save our Green Belt from Labour's development plans.

Working with the community to try to save our Green Belt from Labour’s development plans.

3 very good reason for me (and you?) to vote Liberal Democrat today.

Volunteers running libraries – If they can do it in Lincolnshire why not in Sefton?

Lincolnshire County Council is pressing ahead with plans to put volunteers in charge of libraries. The council said community groups have come forward to take over 30 libraries.

This story came via the BBC.

I am in danger of another rant here because for the life of me I still can’t understand why Labour-run Sefton stopped volunteers from running two of the libraries that Labour decided to shut. It made no sense when they made the decision and frankly looks even more ludicrous with the benefit of having thought about it since.

People like Peter Gill and his fellow campaigners for Aintree Library and indeed their counterparts for College Road Library deserve medals for their efforts whilst stubborn municipal socialists should continue to hang their heads in shame!