Speaking after Derbyshire County Council’s Cabinet meeting, Ruth George MP said: “I am disappointed, but not surprised that Conservative-run Cabinet has voted to go ahead with its consultation on cuts to libraries and bus routes across the county. The decisions show that the Tory Cabinet members do not understand the vital role that libraries and buses play in our communities, nor the impact their plans will have. It is in stark contrast to their election pledges last May to protect libraries and subsidised bus routes from cuts.”
“When Labour ran the County Council up until last May, our libraries we not only protected but invested in, with new buildings where needed, including the new Glossop library which was planned and delivered by Labour.
“Libraries provide a vital and much needed service to some of our most vulnerable and disadvantaged communities – whether it’s to borrow a book, go for advice, or to use the computer. With the introduction of Universal Credit this year – under which applications and the constant updates can only be completed online – libraries, offering free access to the internet and trained staff, will become even more important. Library staff are one of the only sources of advice for making online claims and it is a travesty for the Council to seek to get rid of them when they are needed more than ever.
“I will continue to work closely with residents in Gamesley, Hadfield, Hayfield, Whaley Bridge and across High Peak and Derbyshire to oppose these cuts – including a county-wide petition. The Conservatives’ proposals have already met widespread opposition – and I am sure that will grow over the coming weeks.
“These cuts to High Peak’s library and bus services will be felt most by people who have the least. I urge everyone to make sure that they sign my petition against the library cuts and take part in the consultation when it opens.”
Under DCC’s plans 20 libraries across Derbyshire handed over to unspecified community groups, along with reduced the opening hours for almost all libraries, further reductions to the mobile library service and wider reaching plans for ‘smart’ libraries which could lead to further staff reductions in the future. The consultation opens on May 7th and will run for 12 weeks.
“We may not have felt like going anywhere on the last Bank Holiday, but the proposed bus cuts by Derbyshire County Council, mainly to Sunday and Bank Holiday services around Buxton would make it harder for people without a car to travel.
“I’m particularly worried for people who need to work on these days, and it may increase car travel even more at Bank Holidays. Even the Sunday Chesterfield service is proposed to be cut although it’s vital for people visiting relatives in hospital.”