Posts Tagged ‘libraries’

Lincolnshire Library Cuts: Outrage from William Hussey, Lincolnshire based Author

February 4, 2015

Lincolnshire Libraries Decision – Reactions from Public & The Library Campaign #LibraryPlanNO

February 4, 2015

Russell Brand reading an extract from Revolution

November 17, 2014

This is brilliant, Russell Brand walking into a university library and reading an extract from Revolution.

Maybe something other writers could try.

Though if in Lincolnshire the Philistines at the County Council are determined to close two-thirds of the public libraries.

Do the decent thing Mr Worth… apologise!

October 13, 2014

So Lincolnshire County councillor Nick Worth, Executive Member for Libraries, says (Echo, October 2): “I have nothing to apologise for”.

Nothing to apologise for? After being responsible for wasting vast amounts of Council Tax Payers’ money (thought to be as much as £100,000) on a flawed and futile public consultation to which the outcome was already pre-determined, he feels there’s nothing to apologise for?

This is a pretty incredible statement after his proposals were judged flawed in the High Court in a Judicial Review.

So now the consultation has to be done all over again, at yet more public expense, and in the meantime library hours have already been cut all over the county. None of the benefits promised by Mr Worth have been delivered – just the cuts and the wasted money.

And Lincolnshire is now seen across the country as the failed, dead-beat, backward county that values its citizens so highly that it considers a decent library service too good for them. Even a fellow Conservative local MP, Sir Edward Leigh, has criticised the proposals.

And the new consultation itself (about which Mr Worth laughably says “We are open-minded, so if you have a proposal, please complete the survey.”)? Does it give the public the chance to tell the County Council that it wants the library cuts reversed? Not at all. All it does is to provide ‘the opportunity for respondents to suggest alternative means of providing library services in Lincolnshire, which are comprehensive and efficient, and therefore consistent with the council’s legal duties, and affordable within the council’s budget.’ No scope for telling the County Council to stop the cuts and get on with the job of running a proper library service – just the chance to come up with better ideas for hacking back our libraries than the half-baked ones dreamed up by Mr Worth.

A County Council Executive report has already accepted that the response to the original consultation ‘was predominantly negative and that those who responded were generally opposed to changes to the library service.’

It also accepted that there were criticisms of the consultation process itself. Why not do the job you’re paid to do, and give us a decent library service that the county can be proud of – rather than ashamed of? Not so long ago, another Lincolnshire public servant claimed that he had nothing to apologise for. He too was responsible for mistakes that had to be sorted out by the costly intervention of the High Court.

He too brought the county of Lincolnshire into disrepute. He too cost Council Tax Payers large amounts of money. That man was Alan Hardwick, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire. He had to apologise in the end.

Come on, Mr Worth – take the honourable course of action. Apologise to county taxpayers for the mess that you’ve presided over and give the public what they’ve told you they want instead of battling on with these ludicrous and damaging plans.

— J Thorpe

Originally published by Lincolnshire Echo.

Nick Worth has shown arrogant contempt for the public. He is unfit to hold public office and should resign.

Malala Yousafzai: By the Book

September 12, 2014

The activist and co-author of “I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World” relished “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the first book she read in the hospital when recovering from an attack by the Taliban. New York Times correspondent Jodi Kantor will continue the conversation with Malala Yousafzai at a Times Talk this evening; click here to watch it live or afterwards.

Malala Yousafzai Credit Illustration by Jillian Tamaki

Malala Yousafzai Credit Illustration by Jillian Tamaki

What book are you reading right now?

I’ve been reading “Of Mice and Men,” by John Steinbeck, which is on the school curriculum. It’s a short book, but it is filled with so much. It really reflects the situation of 1930s America. I was fascinated to learn how women were treated at the time, and what life was like for poor itinerant workers. Books can capture injustices in a way that stays with you and makes you want to do something about them. That’s why they are so powerful.

What’s the last truly great book you read?

“The Alchemist,” by Paulo Coelho. I like it because it is hopeful and inspiring. It tells the story of a boy who embarks on a journey to find a treasure, but as he goes along, he learns from every part of his journey and every person he meets. In the end, he finds his treasure in a very interesting place. His story tells you that you should believe in yourself and continue your journey.

Who are your favorite contemporary writers?

Who are your favorite contemporary writers?

Deborah Ellis (author of “Parvana’s Journey”) and Khaled Hosseini (“The Kite Runner”). Both tell stories about young characters in difficult circumstances, having to make hard choices and having to find strength. They accurately depict war-torn regions. I like writers who can show me worlds I know nothing about, but my favorites are those who create characters or worlds which feel realistic and familiar to me, or who can make me feel inspired. I discovered Deborah Ellis’s books in the school library after my head teacher encouraged me to go beyond the school curriculum and look for books I might enjoy. This wasn’t long after I arrived in Britain, and I was missing my friends terribly. Reading about Afghanistan made me feel like being back at home. This is the power of books. They can take you to places which are beyond reach.

And your favorite writers of all time?

Paulo Coelho.

What books would you recommend for young people hoping to understand the plight of girls and women in Pakistan today?

“Mud City,” part of the “Parvana’s Journey” series by Deborah Ellis. I was gripped by this series and couldn’t drag myself away from it. Ellis beautifully captures childhood in war-torn Afghanistan and Pakistan. The stories are very moving.

Is there one book you wish all girls would read? One all students would read?

All girls: “The Breadwinner,” by Deborah Ellis. The book tells the story of a young girl who takes on the challenge of saving her family. I think it’s important for girls everywhere to learn how women are treated in some societies. But even though Parvana is treated as lesser than boys and men, she never feels that way. She believes in herself and is stronger to fight against hunger, fear and war. Girls like her are an inspiration. “The Breadwinner” reminds us how courageous and strong women are around the world.

All students should read “The Kite Runner.” It shows you should not judge other people by external things. And it shows loyalty and friendship.

Were there particular books that helped you get through the recovery process after the attack on you by the Taliban?

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was the first book I read in the hospital. I had been having headaches and couldn’t read or focus properly for a while. It is a lovely book, and it was given to me by Gordon Brown — he sent me 25 books, and this was my favorite.

Which books might we be surprised to find on your bookshelves?

“A Brief History of Time,” by Stephen Hawking. I read it during a period when life in Swat was very hard. I distracted myself from the fear and terrorism by thinking about things like how the universe began and whether time travel is possible. I enjoy science, and I’m a very curious person. I always want to know the reason behind everything, big or small.

What was the last book to make you laugh?

“The Little Prince.” It is a very clever book, and in the beginning it’s extremely funny.

The last book that made you cry?

I never cry reading a book.

The last book that made you furious?

Mine! The editing was really hard. Especially because we wanted to get everything right in a very short period of time. The workdays were very long, but it was worth it in the end.

What are your childhood memories of books and reading?

One of the first books I read is called “Meena,” about a girl who stood up for women’s rights and education in Afghanistan. I also read a biography about Martin Luther King Jr., written for children.

But I didn’t read a lot of books when I was young. In our country, many children don’t attend school or learn how to read. Those who do usually read only textbooks. In our classes, we focused more on history, science and mathematics than literature. Many people couldn’t afford books. Most books were secondhand, used by many children before. In Pakistan even schools own very few books. I was lucky to have a father who valued education and thought it was important that I knew how to read. I read eight or nine books in Swat, and I was considered to be a bookish girl! Here [in Birmingham, England] girls have read hundreds of books.

One of the most memorable moments in my life was when I was asked to open the Library of Birmingham, Europe’s largest new library. I had never seen so many books and all of them freely available to members of the public. If only children in Pakistan had such easy access to books! People of Birmingham are very lucky to have such a wonderful library.

If you could require the American president to read one book, what would it be?

If you could require the American president to read one book, what would it be?

I would like to suggest him to read many books. He should read “The Kite Runner,” too. And “The Little Prince.” Or maybe “The Alchemist,” if he would like to get away from his real world into the imaginary world of “The Alchemist.”

If you could require the prime minister of Pakistan to read one book, what would it be?

I would suggest him to read “Meena, Heroine of Afghanistan: The Martyr Who Founded RAWA, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns.”

What’s the best book you’ve ever read?

The Alchemist.”

And the worst?

I think it would be disrespectful to say that, but I did read a book recently which I thought was the worst.

What was the last book you put down without finishing?

Someone gave me a book to help me in improving my English. I read a few pages, and I didn’t really like that book and decided not to read it, as it had no suspense. A book should have suspense and grab you right from the beginning.

What are you planning to read next?

“An Inspector Calls.” It’s actually a play that I saw and enjoyed. It is part of the English syllabus, and I want to read it as well.

Originally published New York Times.

Lincolnshire Libraries High Court victory

July 23, 2014
Lincs High Court victory

Lincs High Court victory

I have decided that the means by which the county council decided and reached their decision was flawed, in two respects. In respect of the consultation, and of their failure to properly deal with an application by a charitable organisation [Greenwich Leisure Limited] which already ran library service for two London boroughs, Greenwich and Woolwich. I have decided that the decision made in December last year should be quashed. — Mr Justice Collins

Two weeks ago, saw campaigners in the High Court in London challenging the Philistines at Lincolnshire County Council, who wished to close two-thirds of libraries, fire 170 library staff, reduce hours in the remaining libraries.

On the second day in the High Court, the case for the council began to collapse when asked, how many people during the consultation were in favour of library closure. The answer was none. The judge responded he had never come across a consultation where not a single person was in favour of the proposed course of action.

Last week, the good news came through, the campaigners had won their case in the High Court on two counts, the failure of the council to consult, the failure to consider alternatives.

The Defendant is required by Section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 to provide “a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof”.

The Philistines who made the decision, who showed contempt for local people, who showed they are unfit to hold public office, are still in office.

The campaign to save the libraries was a model campaign, something other campaigners should take due note of and learn, and not just on libraries. They were on the street, they took direct action, they lobbied, the petitioned, they involved well-known authors, they made very effective use of social media and they were prepared to go to the High Court.

Most decisions taken by councils are flawed, they go through on the nod, without any proper consultation or scrutiny or representation. Arrogant councillors feel they can do as they please, there to ego trip and get their snouts stuck in the trough. As the High Court challenge has shown, when subject to proper scrutiny, most decisions are shown to be flawed, not in the public interest and for the library closures, unlawful.

Those councillors who took the decision to close libraries, who showed arrogant contempt for the local communities they were elected to serve, who have shown they are unfit to hold public office, must be kicked out of office, and they should also be surcharged to cover the costs, as those costs should not be borne by the local tax payer.

High Court challenge to mass closure of Lincolnshire Libraries – day 2

July 9, 2014
Save Lincolnshire Libraries

Save Lincolnshire Libraries

Save Lincolnshire Libraries leaving  High Court after day 2

Save Lincolnshire Libraries leaving High Court after day 2

A series of tweets to illustrate day 2 of Simon Draper v Lincolnshire County Council, a very important test case, the outcome of which could have major implications for the future of public libraries across the country.

Philistines at Lincolnshire County Council are attempting mass closure of libraries in the county, reduced service for those that remain. Local communities are challenging this through a Judicial Review in the High Court. It would not normally be possible to tweet from Court. The Judge granted permission.

What day 1 and day 2 in the High Court has shown, is that when decisions taken by arrogant councillors and their officials are subject to proper scrutiny, they are found wanting.

Reposted on Medium.

High Court action to stop mass closure of Lincolnshire Libraries – day 1

July 8, 2014
The Royal Courts of Justice

The Royal Courts of Justice

A series of tweets to illustrate day 1 of Simon Draper v Lincolnshire County Council, a very important test case, the outcome of which could have major implications for the future of public libraries across the country.

Philistines at Lincolnshire County Council are attempting mass closure of libraries in the county, reduced service for those that remain. Local communities are challenging this through a Judicial Review in the High Court. It would not normally be possible to tweet from Court. The Judge granted permission.

What day 1 and day 2 in the High Court has shown, is that when decisions taken by arrogant councillors and their officials are subject to proper scrutiny, they are found wanting.

Day 2, lawyers acting for Lincolnshire County Council will be attempting to defend the indefensible.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries will be using the hashtag #LibraryJudicialReview on twitter to post updates.

Reposted on Medium.

Campaigners in the High Court to quash mass closure of Lincolnshire Libraries

July 8, 2014
Lincs High Court activists at Lincoln Station

Lincs High Court activists at Lincoln Station

10-30 this morning in the High Court in London, Simon Draper v Lincolnshire County Council, a very important test case, the outcome of which could have major implications for the future of public libraries across the country.

Campaigners are challenging the crass stupidity and legality of a bunch of Philistines at Lincolnshire County Council of a policy of mass closure of public libraries, two-thirds of the public libraries to be closed and of the remaining third, opening hours to be drastically reduced. 30 out of 44 libraries libraries are to be closed.

Lincoln resident Simon Draper is challenging the council’s decision on four grounds as follows:

  • Lincolnshire County council will no longer be providing a comprehensive and efficient library service as required by section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act
  • the consultation process was unlawful on the grounds that the outcome of consultation had been pre-determined and the basis of the information given for it was misleading
  • the Council failed to give proper consideration to the needs of vulnerable people including the elderly, children and disabled people as required under the Equalities Act
  • the Council did not give sufficient consideration to the bid from Greenwich Leisure to run the library service as required under the Localism Act

The 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act states:

It shall be the duty of every library authority to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof.

Mass closure of libraries is not compliant with the legislation, as the county council is failing in its statutory obligations.

Lincolnshire is a rural county, the second largest county in England. Many rural populations will be without a library service, those that have, will find reduced hours.

The elderly will lose out, who rely on a library. It gets them out and about, keeps their mind active, keeps them physically fit, they socialise.

The poor will lose out, kids from deprived backgrounds, who lack books in the home, where the home is not conducive to study.

Central Library in Lincoln will see its hours reduced to 50 hours a week. It will be the only library left in Lincoln, the branch libraries will be closed.

Reduced mobile library service with over 100 stops disappearing and no service for small and isolated villages.

170 library staff will lose their jobs.

The council will save £2 million. It has a £42 million underspend.

The Philistines at the council are rapidly running out of friends, assuming they had any in the first place. They have been roundly condemned by library users in Lincolnshire, by a whole galaxy of writers, and even local members of parliament are distancing themselves from their crass decision.

To tally with the High Court Judicial reviews, please Thunderclap, set it reverberating around the net, let the whole world know.

Save Lincolnshire Libraries will be using the hashtag #LibraryJudicialReview on twitter to post updates.

Re-posted on Medium.

Letters to Lincolnshire Echo on library closures

June 24, 2014

We realise there were some people who wanted services to remain as they are, but with £2 million less to spend that just wasn’t possible. — Nick Worth

Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. — Walter Cronkite

We measure the value of a civilized society by the number of libraries it opens, not the number it closes down. — Philip Pullman

Three letters to the Lincolnshire Echo on library closures:

Dear Editor

I was horrified to read your story dated 4 June detailing the £41 million underspend by Lincolnshire County Council in the last financial year.

As a campaigner with Save Lincolnshire Libraries I have, over the last eighteen months had my eyes opened to the flagrant arrogance and ignorance of the decision-making group within County Offices, but this latest story takes the barrel, the biscuit and the mug to dunk it in!

If the Lincolnshire people needed evidence of their representatives working against, not for their communities they need look no further. Cllr Hill in particular has been startlingly out of touch with the electorate since the beginning of the libraries campaign. First signing a petition against his own cuts, and more recently claiming that Lincolnshire residents (whom he thinks of in the guise of ‘the great unwashed’ it seems) deserve no legal recourse against his party’s farcical ‘consultation’ unless they dig deep into their own pockets. I wonder: who does Cllr Hill think has paid for the consultation process, the council’s legal expenses thus far, and now the Save Lincolnshire Libraries legal fund – the Leprechaun at the end of that rainbow he’s sitting on, perhaps?

For the leader of the county council to now so flippantly tell the Echo that “careful financial management” has ensured that he and his colleagues can squirrel away £41 million of ratepayers’ money against the proverbial rainy day is nothing short of a direct kick in the stomach to those librarians, campaigners and communities who have paid for that “financial management” plan with their livelihoods, their man hours, their blood, sweat and tears, and their libraries. Out of touch does not even come close.

To the people of Lincolnshire I say this: it IS raining in Lincolnshire, right now. It is raining lies, pomposity and smug, self-serving, money-grabbing elitism disguised as community-mindedness. This is our rainy day, and it is up to us to poke the county council with our umbrellas and remind them that they work for OUR interest, and not the interest they’ll receive on that £41 million they have in the bank.

Yours sincerely,

Leah Warriner-Wood (North Hykeham)

Dear Editor

I have read the piece about the County Council having an underspend of £41 million for the last financial year. This, of course, was on top of an over £20 million underspend the year before. That was announced at the time of the proposals being published to dismember the library service. At that time, opposition councillors asked that some of that money could go into the budget to offset the mammoth 32% reduction in library services. Of course, this was turned down, as it did not fit with the alliance’s plans, which they had already decided upon.

As we all know, the Council decided to go ahead with its proposals even after a consultation that was almost totally against what they had put forward. Furthermore, just to show how right they were, the Executive Committee introduced interim arrangements from this May reducing library opening hours. They have already made 170 members of staff redundant. Now they face the Judicial Review in July, with a decision probably due in September. Why could not the Councillors have thought ahead and put aside some of this underspend in December, when they made the fateful decision about the library service? I realise some of this underspend might be “one-off” money, which can only be spent once. Members at the top of the Council chain would have known when they made their decision in December that there was likely to be an underspend. If they didn’t, they are not doing their job of monitoring the budget. This budget, by the way, is the money we all put in as taxpayers. Isn’t it about time our County Council listened and tried to be forward looking enough to grasp that this would have been an excellent opportunity to keep staff for the first 6 months of the new financial year at least, so that the outcome of the Judicial Review would be known. It is obviously too much to ask. This administration is well passed its sell by date.

Yours sincerely,
Maurice Nauta (Nettleham)

Dear Editor

There is one good thing that has resulted from the news that, following their £50m underspend of 2013, Lincolnshire County Council has underspent for this year by another £40m; we now know that the Council’s story of having a desperate need to save £2m by closing libraries, and that it is being done only under duress, must be purely fictional. In which case the only motivation we can attribute to LCC is that the executive really believes that public access to the services, professional staff and resources of fully funded libraries is a useless and expendable waste of money. I would have liked to say that this is an example of cultural indifference worthy of Genghis Khan, were it not that even Genghis Khan knew the value of reading and writing, encouraged the adoption of an alphabet and made literacy freely available for his people.

Yours sincerely

Liz Waterland, The Friends of Deeping Library

We have councillors who are unfit for public office, who have nothing but arrogant contempt for the local communities they supposedly represent, who stuck two fingers up to the local community when they awarded themselves an increase in their already overgenerous allowances.

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