Monday, 17 January 2011

Lynda Hayward writes to Cllr. Mitchell

Dear Cllr. Mitchell
I am a Headington resident and it is my opinion that the proposed changes and restructuring of the Oxfordshire Libraries is in breach of the statutory duties under the Public Libraries and Museum Act 1964 because:
• The Council failed to make an assessment of local needs
• The local authority and Chief Officers have not listened to the views of those who use the libraries
• The plans to restructure the library service have been done without consultation and do therefore not meet the needs of the communities which the libraries serve.
• The Council’s view appears to be that it is hard to maintain a large number of small and old libraries
• The Council’s plans appear to have focussed specifically on the issue of asset management and cost saving rather than the need to provide FREE access to books
• Social impact on communities loosing there libraries does not justify the financial saving
• No consideration has been given to the needs of sections of the community living in deprived areas and the housing expansion in some of these areas
• No travel impact assessment was carried out about how older people, disabled, children, young families and the unemployed were going to use and afford transport links to the remaining libraries
• The Council have displayed a lack of logic around why some libraries have been recommended for closure and not others.
• It is very unclear what criteria the Council have used to reach judgements on balancing the need to provide a comprehensive and efficient service that is compliant with the Act
• Oxford and Oxfordshire have a diverse population. For many there is an excellent quality of life with access to good housing, schooling, leisure and employment opportunities. For others there is unemployment, low skills level, poor housing, anti-social behaviour. The restructuring will mean it is harder for people to escape their social class and have aspirations for the kind of advancement that reading can provide for them.
• Closure of libraries would mean not only a loss of books but the removal of FREE access to computers, internet and information necessary for up skilling people so they can enter the work place, in homes where there are limited resources.
• The elderly, disabled and unemployed will have their convenient access to FREE books removed, little consideration being given to the most vulnerable in our communities
• Children (of a certain age) can have independent use of local libraries which they will not have when local libraries close
• Additional travelling costs and time will effect library use when local libraries close
• Adequate library provision at a local level is key to improving educational opportunities and raising standards. The plans show little regard for the needs of children who are already suffering because of the educational cuts which are having an impact on resources in schools
• Libraries play an important role in supporting learning and reducing barriers to learning particularly for those pupils who come from disadvantaged backgrounds
I apologise for any items where I have made wrong assumptions but this has arisen from the Council’s lack of transparency during this whole process.

I would appreciate your comments on these matters.

Lynda Hayward

1 comment:

  1. Excellent!
    Well done Lynda. This is a cogent summary of everything wrong with this proposal.
    I think you should point out that you are a very experienced and respected local primary school teacher! You know that the children benefit from having a library and we should spend much more on them, not less. I believe and hope that you are right about the threatened closures being illegal. Even when things are illegal it takes the wind blowing in the right way to stop entrenched establishment powers just getting away with it all.
    May the Force be with you!!!!!