Saturday 11 May 2013

If it were a statutory instrument, it would have to go before the House

The Local Government association is a lobbying organisation that relies on subscriptions from its members (local government), grants from central government (again our money) and generates income from selling its services (to local government again) in the form of courses and conferences etc. It relies totally on taxpayers money to exist. In simple terms, we as taxpayers are paying for one part of government to lobby another. Most people will only hear the LGA when there's a negative story about local government, they will trot out a spokesman to speak to the media to refute any of the negative claims and blame it on the national government, say there is a lack of government funding and its never the councils fault. They are part of that undemocratic pool of detritus in the Westminster bubble that is comprised of think tanks, quangos and other bodies that leech money away from the taxpayer but are unaccountable to them.

During the current economic downturn, the LGA have made it clear the Libraries will be at the forefront of the cuts. They keep referring to them as non-statutory and that they will have to be cut hard to save the other real statutory services. It seems not just the minister is happy to ignore the 1964 museums and libraries act,  the LGA and the media seem happy to ignore that they are statutory.

It is clearly a ploy on their part to use libraries as a battering ram to try and secure a better funding deal during the next spending review. The fact that we are paying for a un-elected, taxpayer funded body (I didn't vote for anyone on the LGA) to attack libraries and lie to the media saying they are non-statutory to try and get a better deal for councils is offensive. Perhaps if the LGA spent less time defending incompetent local government, attacking national government and used their taxpayer funded resources  knocking heads together between councils to get them to work together better I wouldn't be writing this. Sadly they aren't, they are doing nothing to actually help libraries and are using them to further their own agenda.

I'm going to remind both my county and district council that in these tough financial times the LGA subs are non-statutory and perhaps they shouldn't pay them, its either adult social care or the LGA subscriptions as far as I'm concerned. Other big city councils have pulled out of the LGA and are now doing their own thing so obviously some councils are seeing sense.

They spend millions of our money every year lobbying, perhaps the LGA subscriptions from councils should be cut by by 75% maybe that will prompt them into action.

Stop wasting our money attacking libraries, start working to try and save them. My own local authority was paying a 68k subscription to the LGA in 2011, they probably spend lots more on the courses and seminars they put on. That's subscription cost alone is probably enough to fully restore the hours of the low paid library managers and assistants in about 7 of the cut libraries.

Here is the annual expenditure for the LGA for the last few years:

This remember is money spent by a lobbying organisation with one part of government lobbying another. Yes they have councillors in the LGA but they are not directly elected by us. Its time the LGA and other organisations in receipt of taxpayers cash start actually batting for the taxpayer in these difficult times rather than defending the bleeding stump cuts and mediocrity that passes for libraries policy we get in local government.

What would you cut? LGA Subs or libraries, how many libraries could be saved by nearly 28 million pounds?

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