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Nov 24 2014

Harrow’s Labour Council Consults on Closing Libraries

harrow_council_logoBetween today, and January 19, next year, residents can have their say about Harrow’s Labour Administration’s proposal to close four libraries across the borough. Full details and a feedback form are here.

Dave’s other half-assed ideas, apart from closing the libraries, include cutting back the opening hours – to just over 22 hours per week, having self-service technology and CCTV cameras, moving to e-book libraries – which should totally exclude the older generations, or getting his team of community champions to run libraries for no charge. As long as they have time from shovelling snow, picking up litter and cleaning rivers. Hang in there Dave – you might find one of them who’s give you a hand with that pesky Chief Exec role for free.

Cast your mind back to January 2013, when Dave himself said: “I’m delighted to see that our residents are using our libraries so much. We have always known that Harrow residents love their libraries and the services they provide, and these latest survey results show now that they are more valued than ever. Harrow Council wants to ensure that our libraries continue as thriving community resources, whilst also bringing them into the 21st century, and Harrow’s libraries are set to see some great improvements very soon.”

That in itself was an odd statement to make, given that the previous four years – if this chart is anything to go by – had seen four successive years of reducing visits.

20141124_library_usageHowever, something doesn’t smell quite right (no, Cllr Kendler, it’s not you). According to an FOI request – back when the council was at least pretending to be ‘open and honest’ with this scurrilous website, they told us that on 2010-11 there were 133,000 visits to libraries, and 119,000 in 2012-13 – perhaps Dave’s lot have simply got the decimal point in the wrong place somewhere.Or maybe the PR team – desperate to win that £3,000,000 contract – are making it a bit more ‘edgy” or whatever it is the hell they do.

And in May 2013, Dave said: “Harrow Council is committed to providing the best possible … library facilities for its residents. Ensuring that libraries … continue to provide high standards is a top priority for the council and this new partnership will protect our services for the future, even though the council is facing unprecedented financial pressure.”

Meanwhile, Dave is pushing on with his plan to bring his hired help, at something over £150,000 per year. Nice one Dave. really shows you have residents at heart.

 

 

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12 comments

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  1. Concerned Harrovian

    I think the administration have been using George Orwell’s book 1984 as a manual. Ignorance is strength seems to be their mantra. And if closing four public libraries leaves many children of the less affluent, and also adults, shut out from upward mobility, well, did you really believe that stuff about creating equality of opportunity?

    If Harrovians are to become less literate they won’t be asking those awkward questions. Unless of course you are Paul with FOI requests. Then the administration search in their library dictionaries to come up with the word vexatious.

  2. Yogesh

    It was Labour’s aspiration to close the libraries since 2010. They had put the idea forward as a propaganda to see people’s reaction. Now they are in power again, they have assumed the residents will not mind Labour exercising this aspiration.

    Harrow has best schools and the pupils achieve high standards and qualifications. Obviously, this does not fit within Labour’s philosophy. Thus, to be able to reduce the standard and quality, it is easier to close the libraries so students cannot go and study. With respect to older generation that reside in Harrow, bad luck.

    Do not worry, by the end of the four year term, Harrow Labour Administration will blame the students, the older generation, rest of the residents and the government in power at the time, except themselves for being incompetent, ignorant and inefficiency!!!!

  3. sonoo malkani

    I don’t believe anybody with any sense, in this day and age ,would wish to bring down the standards of education in our country, by robbing our students and local citizens of such a precious community asset.Why should we allow this to happen LOCALLY.?

    It is quite a pernicious idea and should be BANISHED.Otherwise how can we hope to produce a generation which can compete in today’s world against high performers from countries such as India and China where the importance of education is second to none!PLEASE do not HANDICAP our communities.

    We need to help RAISE STANDARDS not bring them down and then complain every year how poor the performance is.

    Libraries are a LONG-TERM INVESTMENT.We must not think of SHORT TERM GAINS and gamble with this priceless asset.It is tantamount to sacrilege.I cannot think of any place in the civilised,developing world which would cut off its oxygen supply to aspiring students and citizens of all ages,social and cultural groups.Yes,that is precisely what would be the effect of shutting these houses of knowledge down.

  4. Somewhocares

    Now who exactly was it famously said ‘Education, Education, Education’?
    Ah Yes – now I recall – and he was right.
    *This* plan is simply wrong however.

  5. Rosalyn

    So Harrow Arts Centre and Museum have been “saved” for the time being after huge public outcry so now this council details another highly controversial and bonkers scheme. Get your priorities right, if you need to save money why employ an expensive Chief Exec at the cost of our libraries? It will be the young and elderly who lose out and as others who have posted quite rightly say will affect standards of education.

    I mentioned to a teenage friend of my daughters that her local library could be closed and she was upset and couldn’t understand the logic. Unfortunately I couldn’t explain the logic to her as there is none! She is a regular library user and an A* student. Her younger sister, still at primary school, also visits the library sometimes twice a week.

    How can their education not be affected?

  6. sonoo malkani

    LABOUR GOES BANANAS!!This whole scheme is completely crazy.I urge our local citizens to please find out the CONSULTATION DATES of the FOUR libraries ear-marked for impending closure—ie RAYNERS LANE,NORTH HARROW,HATCH END & EDGWARE(Bob Lawrence)and attend in large numbers so that you have the opportunity to let those in charge know exactly how passionately you feel.

    Our local library in RAYNERS LANE will be holding its CONSULTATION on Tuesday 2 December at 630pm.PLEASE ensure all of those who care about the threatened closure of our precious library and the impact on the lives of local users turn out in large numbers so that we hammer home our feelings about this plundering of the sparse assets we hold.

    I hope some of you will bring suggestions –including having volunteers helping to keep it running—and any other CREATIVE SOLUTIONS to fight off the marauders.

    Stop Labour unravelling your educational opportunities and DIS-EMPOWERING our LOCAL COMMUNITY.Shutting down your library is equivalent to SHUTTING YOU OUT OF EDUCATION

    Ask yourselves–had you realised they would do this ,would we have added one more LABOUR Councillor to our rAYNERS LANE Ward only some months back?We have been betrayed RIGHT ROYALLY.Every single Ward should look at how their local area will be impoverished by this loss and consider taking steps before it’s a “DONE DEAL!”

    STAND TALL & FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS.

    SAVE YOUR LIBRARY.IT’S NOW OR NEVER!!

  7. Robin

    It is unfortunate that the staff at the libraries are not permitted their say. Nor were they allowed to promote the consultations within the branches with posters or leaflets. They are banned from starting petitions. Staff have been threatened with disciplinary action if they express any opinion.
    The public consultation leaflets which listed the dates of the meetings within the libraries were delivered on Monday 24 November, the first meeting was Monday 24 November. What sort of notice is that for the public? No doubt the attendance was poor, certainly the council’s aim. Then by Tuesday 25 November the consultation leaflets had run out.
    Apparently the rest were being printed. Further leaflets arrived on Tuesday 2 December. Staff were informed that they were not permitted to photocopy the leaflets for those who want one, and had to encourage people to complete the questionnaire online.

    Things to consider:
    How far will you now have to travel to get to a library?
    Where will you buy your parking permits?
    Where will you buy your bio bin bags?
    Where will you get your Freedom Pass? (a new service).
    Where will you be able to use a computer for free?
    How many parents have access to hundreds of picture books for their young children?
    Where will you take your babies and toddlers for rhyme time and story time.
    Where will your book club now be?
    All the activities in the holidays for children are free – Who else provides such a service?

    Who will run the library service if 4 branches close. The word is that Carillion (who currently run the libraries on a new 5 year contract) will pull out if there are closures. Harrow will no doubt have to pay a penalty clause to Carillion.

    How many staff will lose their job?

    What about the prospect of Wealdstone opening without staff? If that proves a success it will no doubt be rolled out to all the libraries. Who will help you when you visit? On the questionnaire it asks if you would be prepared to volunteer? So many visitors to the libraries need help with queries and information.

    Please support the libraries.

  8. Concened Harrovian

    I have just read a quote from leader Dave in the Harrow Times which claims the majority of Harrow people support a rise in Council tax!!!!

    *Is he living in Cloud Cuckoo land?

    Cloud Cuckoo Land refers to an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect. (“You’re living in cloud cuckoo land, mate.”) It hints that the person referred to is naïve, unaware of reality or deranged in holding such an optimistic belief.

    The reference comes from The Birds,[1] a play by Aristophanes in which Tereus helps Pisthetairos (which can be translated as “Mr. Trusting”) and Euelpides (“Mr. Hopeful”) erect a perfect city in the clouds, to be named Cloud Cuckoo Land

  9. sonoo malkani

    Must admit I was quite upset to arrive at Rayners Lane library to discuss the fate of our precious library on 2 December at 630pm and find it was not a MEETING but merely a drop-in session!We felt rather disappointed.This was exactly what others who came along to attend also felt.We,the local residents, had wanted an INTER-ACTIVE meeting so that we could hear the views of others and also discuss why we felt it needs to be kept open and also ways to help support this.

    The Council had come along with a couple of folk to take down our view-points and review the feed-back.The only Councillors who bothered to turn up were local Councillor Jeff Anderson and his wife,Cllr Sue Anderson in charge of Culture and Community.Felt like a “done deal”especially when the Council has the FREEHOLD for this library and can sell it for a high price to some developer who will probably gleefully construct flats for sale.

    Many who arrived were senior citizens and even a former highly experienced librarian from this very branch.She thought this was a travesty for the local population.Rayners Lane has steadily been allowed to go down-hill.We already have had banks,building societies and other establishments move out and a raft of grocery shops —mainly Sri Lankan—flood the area.I admit it makes purchasing Indian and Sri Lankan groceries very convenient but this has now gone over the top!A whole heap of “Pound Shops” have suddenly sprouted.Almost as if no body cares what is happening to Rayners Lane.Getting a somewhat “run -down”look which none of us welcome.

    The Council has spent loads of money to help North Harrow revive and have plants-filled troughs and lights up and down the Street.This is in marked contrast to Rayners Lane.I remember the lighting of our Christmas Tree every year at this time .All disappeared into thi air.

    We are aware that a business man has taken on the responsibility of making a business case to keep North Harrow library open and people are signing petitions.

    Well,we need somebody perhaps a business man from our area to do the same..Rayners Lane has precious little assets or amenities.Taking away our only real asset feels like daylight robbery.

    Frankly,we told them that we have many young mums with little ones who come and use the library for reading sessions.You and I know how important it is to lay the foundations for a good education in this manner.Our local Safer neighbourhood team also comes and hold monthly surgeries here.There is scope for hiring out the upstairs to various different groups and also look at other options such as fund-raising and sponsorships plus using volunteers to keep our library open..

    How can anybody seriously want to disadvantage an already financially and,socially declining area even more?It defies common-sense and is a short term policy of the worst kind.

    Having enjoyed living very happily in Rayners Lane ,since 1971,it’s awfully sad to watch the slow demise of a lovely residential area,served with a plethora of services and with an excellent mix of population made up of communities who,in the main,were able to access many conveniences.We had the ability and the OPPORTUNITY to make a good contribution to the society in which we lived.We had a Chamber of Commerce which closed years back.Nobody has cared to resuscitate our town ,unlike North Harrow.One wonders why??!!

    In addition, one senses a cynically “planned demise” of what once was!Quite outrageous,especially since the demographics have changed so drastically in the past decade or so.We must put a stop to newer, emerging communities from being denied a fair share of AMENITIES and precious resources to help them learn to integrate and educate themselves

    This would enable them to stand and play their part on an equal footing, in building a cohesive and caring society,locally.Our library is the HUB of many useful and valuable activities,a common place for minds to meet and for EDUCATING our citizens..Please do not pluck out the HEART of RAYNERS LANE and its BRAIN too.

    We might consider having ALL our libraries kept open for fewer days and hours on a ROTA basis so none of our citizens felt penalised or discriminated against.We all pointed out,that despite being keenly aware of the major savings we had to make starting with the fiscal year 2014-15 we could seriously
    consider many other options and get a PROPER CONSULTATION,not just online.but with community members presenting their case.Not everyone in Rayners Lane is on computers or has the knowledge either.

    Rayners Lane has excellent transport—many buses plus TWO Tube lines—the Metropolitan as well as the Piccadilly line.It would be so silly to shut this down and create an unholy mess.

    We made the Councillors and officers aware how passionate we were about saving our library,,even RUNNING A CAMPAIGN in the local Press and on Community Radio etc.They wrote down our ideas and promised to look into it.

    Many of us pointed out that THREE out of the FOUR libraries ear-marked for closure ie RAYNERS LANE,NORTH HARROW AND HATCH END WERE ALL IN A SEMI-CIRCLE .Their members would have to somehow travel to the nearest library ie PINNER. for a similar service.

    The Council confirmed they had no plans to increase the capacity of the PINNER library so how on earth do they hope to accommodate displaced members from the other three?These closures have not been planned properly or with due care.The fourth one –the Bob L:awrence library in EDGWARE is much further away from ours.

    We also stressed that the PERCEPTION of the local citizens is that the libraries chosen for closure in the first round—-yes,first round,more will follow in 2015-16—-are in the area where most BME groups live.They feel UNFAIRLY TARGETED and DISCRIMINATED AGAINST.This could cause serious feelings of mistrust in our Local Authority and is not in the interests of its health in any shape or form.

    I suggested extending the consultation date to 31 January 15 instead of 19 January and urged those seeking feed-back that if the Council want a GENUINE CONSULTATION these INTER-ACTIVE SESSIONS be held in the THIRD week of January,giving most of our citizens the opportunity to return from their Christmas holidays.I had found this to be the best time from hard experience.

    We were promised a fair hearing.Let’s see what really happens.

    I would like to thank the Robin for all the comments made above which will help us to ensure that the people know what questions need to be asked.Also,very concerned that staff have been muzzled as described.We are a democracy,are we not!

  10. Robin

    Very interesting reading other people’s comments. A website I was looking at sets out what the council should offer in the way of a consultation – a legal requirement where there is a major restructuring.
    http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/library-closing/consultations
    Of major note is the fact that a consultation should last 12 weeks. Harrow council is only 9 weeks.

  11. sonoo malkani

    One wonders whether anyone is REALLY listening.All seems like a “done deal”which will have serious implications for the residents in the areas serving these four libraries.We are not interested in the politics, just in a FAIR DEAL for ALL our residents throughout Harrow.

  12. Robin

    I understand all the libraries under threat have started petitions. Visit your library and sign the petition. There are also more dates for meeting council officials who want to close the libraries.

    Monday 5th January, 6.30pm – 8.00pm, Hatch End Library

    Tuesday 6th January, 6.30pm – 8.00pm, Bob Lawrence Library

    Wednesday 7th January, 2.00pm – 3.30pm Harrow Civic Centre

    Wednesday 7th January, 6.30pm – 8.00pm, Pinner Library

    Thursday 8th January, 6.30pm – 8.00pm, Rayners Lane Library

    Tuesday 13th January, 10.00am – 11.30am, North Harrow Library

    Visit at any or all of these events, have your say, its your last chance.

    The savings to be had are meagre and not worth the loss of this service.

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