Sheffield Green Party is supporting the demonstration outside the 8th January Council meeting and urges people to make their views about library closures known by completing the public consultation which ends on January 10th.
Sheffield Green Party calls on the Council to come up with revised proposals before the final vote on the budget on 7th March. It is continuing to campaign to keep all Sheffield libraries open as statistics show Sheffield spending per head as the lowest of 16 authorities sampled by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. Sheffield has cut the library service heavily in the last three years.
Green Group leader, Councillor Jillian Creasy comments :
“There has been no meaningful consultation, despite recognising the scale of the problem two years ago. The first round of consultation was completely superficial; the second asked for expressions of interest, but didn’t give the groups enough information to work with or lead to discussion with them; the third and final round imposes Labour’s “one size fits all” cuts in a pattern which bears no relation to existing services or the communities they serve.”
“If substantial change were really the only option, the Council must recognise that libraries cannot be run and managed by volunteers without funding and professional staff. Also, the Council has refused to support any volunteers working alongside professional staff in council-run libraries, so that there’s no experience of this model. Finally, community groups need time and help to get from the current situation to the point of working with each other and the Council – the administration completely failed to kick-start this process when they came into power in 2011.”
Sheffield Green Party Chair and Broomhill resident, Jon Ashe, comments :
“Our local library branches are vital to the communities they serve, especially for people who don’t have access to the internet. Neighbouring shops may also suffer because of reduced footfall if local libraries close. We want the Council to have genuine and constructive discussions with residents before decisions are taken.”
The full Council meets on Wednesday 8th January 2014 at 2pm. Members of the public can attend and should arrive by 1.45pm. It is expected that about 10 branch campaigns will submit petitions and speak to them. That will be followed by a councillors debate.
Details of the library review and consultation are at https://www.sheffield.gov.uk/libraries/library-review.html
The library budget was £9m in 2010 and £6.014m in 2013/14. The Council now proposes a further cut of £1.669m over 2 years to 2015/16. This is a 52% cut from 2010, more than many other services. £1.669m is just 0.12% of the Council’s overall budget of £1.392 billion.
CIPFA (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) showed Sheffield as 16th out of 16 in a sample of authorities for net library expenditure per head of population. Average expenditure was £14.83 per head; Sheffield only spent £10.75. http://www.cipfa.org//media/Files/Services/Research%20and%20Statistics/CIPFAstats%20library%20profiles/Sheffield.pdf (Page 19 – 2011/12 Actuals & 2012/13 Estimates)