Thursday, 21 October 2010
A warning has gone out from Bridgwater Trades Union Council, and campaign group Bridgwater Forward, after members attended a “Focus Group” meeting on 29th September, in Bridgwater Library, organised by Somerset County Council. The meeting was part of a Review of Library Services throughout Somerset.
Bridgwater people must act now if they are to save yet another valuable town centre facility from relocation, reduction, or even closure.
After all, we’ve already lost the Splash, County Court, Crown Post Office, Driving Test Centre and Tax Office, with the Magistrates’ Court to follow soon, while the Hospital and Police Station are moving out to the edge of town.
The County Council wants to save £252,000 from Bridgwater Library’s running costs: replacing library staff with ticket machines, or even volunteers; cutting opening hours; seeking commercial sponsorship or even mergers with school libraries.
Bridgwater Forward, Bridgwater TUC, and local-government staff trades union UNISON are already organising to oppose any cuts. They will be asking people to refuse to volunteer to cover the jobs of trained and professional library staff.
Libraries don’t just provide books: they are vital sources of information, education and ideas, valued and enjoyed by all sections of the community. The library’s DVD and CD rental service is the best and cheapest in town! The People’s Network and UK Online facility has proved particularly popular with older people and migrant workers. Schools value the additional support and facilities provided by staff (having lost swimming facilities, are Bridgwater children to suffer yet further leisure and learning deprivation?)
Trades Council Secretary Dave Chapple said: “A Libraries Review should ask local people what improvements they want. For example, a book budget of £200,000 across the whole of Somerset is pitiful. Hampshire’s, by contrast, is £2.5 million! We’d like to see the whole range of services provided by the library better advertised, and what about improving road signage to the library, so more people can find their way there? This isn’t a Review. It’s softening us up for more unnecessary and unacceptable cuts in public services.”
You can help by visiting the Library in Binford Place, talking to staff about services available and filling in the Comments forms available from the library information desk, stating how important the library is to you and to the town
BRIDGWATER & DISTRICT TRADES UNION COUNCIL/BRIDGWATER FORWARD
GLEN BURROWS 07722087675/ 01278 450562