Friday, 25 January 2013

Birkdale Library Campaigners present petition

Last night the Birkdale Library Action Group (BLAG) handed in their 4000 signature petition at the full Council meeting in Southport Town Hall. Birkdale has been identified by the Labour Council -along with all the other branch Libraries in Southport -for closure.

Terry Durrance put the case well for the campaign in his presentation to the Council drawing particular attention to the facilities for people who are elderly and disabled. He draw attention to the 8 schools in the catchment area and to the exceptionally high figures for books issued at our Library

I was very pleased to speak in support of BLAG and was joined by Simon Shaw and Tony Dawson. It was good also to have the support of Pat Ball from Dukes ward. Sir Ron spoke but he was more equivocal seemed to suggest that given the facilities at The Atkinson such closures could not be ruled out. The Leader of the Council replied and blamed the Government. Apart from that contribution no Labour Councillor spoke.

There were also petitions from Aintree Library and Ainsdale Library. Amazing even when those areas were represented by Labour their Councillors were silent. It did not go unnoticed by the campaigners

Regrettably one solution being proposed in the media is that Library spending should be ring fenced. This also struck me as a 'motor mouth' response to a crisis unaccompanied by thought. What it essentially says is that the Council cannot be trusted to make these decision so the should be made in Whitehall. If the council funding is 'top sliced' to fund Libraries why do Children Centres, or pot hole repairs or rough sleepers or recycling. Come to that let us abolish the council and just hire local officials to spend the money as Whitehall dictates

The point of local councils is that they can make the decisions about local spending locally. local councillors are aware of local circumstances and are accountable to local citizens for the choices they make. Imagine having to Whitehall to lobby for a neighbourhood service. Essentially this approach is a vote of no confidence in local democracy and in favour of centralised big brother solutions. Those who make it proclaim they do not trust the Labour administration to make these tough choices and want them taken out of their hands. So now we know what Bill Esterson thinks of his councillors.

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