If Newcastle City Council are allowed to get away with only having one statutory library then the 1964 public libraries and museum's act will cease to exist. I can only presume they have pre-announced this to the media to try and whip up a storm (they will get one) to put pressure on the coalition government and the DCMS ahead of the next round of cuts. If this is the case then shame on the council for using the libraries of the people and great City of Newcastle as a political football. The politicians will all blame each other but each have a responsibility to strain every sinew to protect vital services. If this does go through then it is the end of libraries as far as I'm concerned.
What I suspect is actually the case, as we have seen in other parts of the public sector is that badly negotiated PFI contracts are strangling the budgets of the services they are supposed to provide, both the Central Library and High Heaton were built and provided under a PFI deal that probably has two decades at least left to run. Lots of NHS Trusts up and down the land are struggling because they opted for the "Wonga" option and the spiralling costs of meeting the payments is eating up the budget.
If this is the case then the City Council have nobody to blame but themselves. I'm actually amazed they think one fully funded library meets their requirements under the act.
The SCL, Arts Council, CILIP and every other organisation that has anything at all to do with libraries needs to publicly come out in the strongest possible terms against this. The SCL especially, if it wants the influence and get the column inches it measures its own success by needs to get its proverbial head out of the backside of the minister, the invisible fence sitting they are currently doing achieves nothing. Newcastle is one of the greatest cities in the world, (I say this as someone who comes from Sunderland), but the North East has higher areas of deprivation than any other area in England, taking away all but one of the libraries from the people of Newcastle is morally repellent. They must not be allowed to follow this disgusting, abhorrent and repugnant course of action.
Vaizey must act or he must be removed, the city council must change course or they must be removed. We have been pushed back too far, enough is enough.