Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Letter to Keith

Dear Keith,

As per my constant stream of tweets, will you please set out the reasons why this proposal is the only one on the table? I agree completely on the need for cuts within the library service but obviously disagree with the way the cuts are being made in the mainly rural libraries. I have no idea if you have been reading my blog or not but I have tried to show other areas that I don't personally thing have been explored. I want to understand the real arguments for this proposal. The QA isn't worth the paper it is written on, it is misquoted and the data derived from it uses a faulty premise that is biased against rural areas.

I cannot speak for the library groups but the feeling I get is there isn't the volunteers to sustain this, even if they tried all the other good work they do which makes Oxfordshire's library service one of the best in the country would be lost. Not only that, the nonsense of health and safety would mean the training costs would cancel out any savings by making staff cuts, on top of that the volunteer coordinated on 60-70k salary would further erode any savings.

There are plenty of other arguments that I could list but don't want to send you a email that would run to pages and pages. Not only is it obvious the cuts could be made in the management and support and the internal recharge, a back office share (full or partial) with other authorities could easily make the savings required. Other things unanswered are why the good work in Hillingdon that has seen massive improvements to the service (and increased issues and visitor numbers) within existing budgets been ignored? They have half the libraries of Oxfordshire and have made 250k savings alone on letting the local libraries purchase the books they want directly from the suppliers. I don't know all the detail, I presume you do. But this way forward has been completely pushed aside. The other avenue where we weren't given detail on was why it wasn't pursued to get a private company to run the service, I have no issue personally with this but would imagine your "leftie" friends in Oxford City wouldn't be pleased. 

Also why do the city libraries not have to join the big society? They are densely populated and it would be a lot easier for them to find volunteers. Not only that the CRB, first aid, fire marshal etc wouldn't be required because professional staff would always be onsite (unlike in the case of the small libraries under this proposal). Most of the existing volunteers in the rural libraries are retired, I don't think it is fair for retired people to have paid taxes all their lives to then be asked to provide front line services to themselves.

I think I and the other library groups would welcome you setting out the position on why OCC are pressing ahead with this proposal and ignoring other possibilities. Since most of the cuts in the proposal are to rural libraries I would imagine it is going to be a hard sell to your own side, in quite a few seats where libraries are being cut your colleagues have very slim majorities. Cllr Fateman, Cllr Heathcoat and Cllr Rose in the cabinet alone look very vulnerable come 2013.

With kind regards,

Trevor Craig,

p.s good luck with whatever you decide to pursue after May, maybe you can get your piano grades up and audition to join the Oxford Philomusica? :D

p.p.s you are welcome to put this on your blog, I am going to put it on mine.

p.p.p.s you could get volunteers to do the cleaning instead of Quest and save more money than under this proposal

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