May 26 2013 Latest news:
by Flora Drury
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Cutting the mobile library service to save £100,000 is an “absolute crime”, say campaigners.
Haringey Council will tonight consider plans to axe the mobile and housebound library service by September 2014 - giving it a much needed saving, but one that comes at a cost.
The saving will mean the loss of the delivery of library stock to 38 sheltered housing units, 12 children’s centres, day centres and seven street sites and the delivery of library stock to 180 Haringey residents who are housebound and cannot access library services.
It will also mean the loss of the delivery of the Bookstart packs from the Book Trust to nurseries, playgroups, children’s centres and health centres.
Cllr Richard Watson, cabinet member for communities, attempted to reassure residents by promising to “consult extensively” and to use the months before it was lost “to explore alternative ways of providing this service in conjunction with other agencies or neighbouring councils”.
But local campaigners - many of whom formed their ‘friends’ groups when the libraries were under threat in the 80s and 90s - remain worried.
Susan Chinn, of the Highgate Library Action Group, said: “I am hoping it is not the beginning of bigger cuts, but alarm bells are definitely ringing. We have seen this before. and we do not like it at all.
“Haringey has not yet done anything to destroy the service we have, while most other boroughs have been basically at it for some time. We were hoping they were going to see sense and keep the good work up.
“They are looking desperately for ways to cut money and I can understand it - but this way is not the right way.”
She added: “Why are they working so hard on these three vulnerable groups? We think it is an absolute crime to do this. The mobile service heads to all those places and people who cannot get to the libraries.”
The proposals also sparked anger from the opposition Liberal Democrat group. Cllr Nigel Scott, Lib Dem communities spokesperson, said: “The mobile library is a very important service for the disabled, elderly and for the young and it relatively little in terms of the council’s budget. It is a lifeline for some of our most vulnerable residents, particularly those who are housebound.”
The group has also come up with an alternative budget, which they claim would allow the council to save the service by cutting the council’s spend on expensive agency staff.
Haringey’s Lib Dems have also suggested other amendments to the budget, which would allow Haringey to build 100 more council homes, introduce 30 minutes of free parking in town centres and increase recycling. They say it would be possible by cutting the communications budget, reducing the number of council managers, sharing services with other councils or other public bodies like the NHS, reducing the amount spent on agency staff and ending the automatic re-filling of council job vacancies.
- For a full breakdown of the decisions taken at Wednesday’s Full Council, see next week’s paper or visit www.hamhighbroadway.co.uk.