High Peak MP Ruth George is renewing her campaign against planned cuts to the county’s libraries services and calling for clarity on the Council leader’s assurances, following the decision of Conservative councillors to go ahead with the consultation after the decision was called-in for further scrutiny by Labour and Lib Dem councillors.
Ruth said: “I am disappointed that the council has decided not to reconsider its consultation plans, despite the Council’s leader making conflicting statements about what alternative options are available.
“The Conservatives’ policy now appears to be that they will guarantee to keep libraries open if they remain within council control, but they have not given a similar assurance if a library is taken over by the community – indeed, in that case, they will cut its funding to zero over 4 years.
“It’s no wonder that there is huge suspicion in the areas with threatened libraries that the Conservatives are simply trying to make communities take the blame for library cuts and possible closures.
“In last year’s election, the Conservatives claimed that the Labour administration, who had protected all of Derbyshire’s libraries during their four years in control of the Council, and even replaced two old buildings, were threatening our libraries with closure. Less than a year before their proposed cuts to libraries they promised,
“We will protect libraries from Labour’s cuts and closure threats as we recognise the important role our library service has in our communities.”
“The Conservative leadership now need to make clear how they will make good that promise in light of their proposals.
“Libraries are a godsend to many people, whether it’s the regular trip to swap books or to use a computer, providing access to books, local information, computers and the internet, which are so vital today.
“Increasingly public bodies, including council and the government are insisting that residents contact them via a website or by email. When Universal Credit comes to High Peak in September thousands of people on low incomes will have to claim online.
“Council funding and trained librarians are also essential to guarantee our library service.”
The council proposes handing over 20 libraries across Derbyshire to community group, along with changes to the mobile library service and wider reaching plans for ‘smart’ libraries which could lead to further staff reductions in the future.
Hundreds of residents signed Ruth’s petition at her street stall in Spring Gardens, Buxton on Saturday. Glossop residents will have the chance at a further stall this Saturday 19th May in Norfolk Square, 10.30am – 12 noon:
Or you can sign online at: https://apps.derbyshire.gov.uk/applications/petitions/details.asp?PetitionID=298
Details of the consultation can be found on Derbyshire County Council’s website: https://www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/libraries/libraries-for-derbyshire/libraries-for-derbyshire.aspx