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Local services :: Libraries
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Following an extensive campaign and judicial review that was unfavourable to them, Gloucestershire county council (GCC) has been forced to redress its cuts programme through public consultations.
Campaigners have now discovered that the "library workshops" being run as part of the public consultation will each receive £40 in shopping vouchers to be spent at Tesco and Sainsbury's.
Only one campaign member was invited (obviously by mistake) to the workshop, despite the fact that the GCC's Big Society agenda promised that local groups could take over public facilities.
The invite that went out states that the library review is happening due to "limited resources" but this did not deter the GCC from putting taxpayers' money into the pockets of retail giants Tesco and Sainsbury's.
Joanna Bo Anderson, a tireless leading figure in the countywide campaign, said: "It is particularly galling as this consultation is only happening because Gloucestershire County Council made such a monumental mess of the libraries review the first time around. Such a mess that the High Court ruled them to be guilty of 'bad government' and a 'fundamental breach of the law'.
"Despite plenty of warnings GCC insisted on leading the taxpayers of Gloucestershire into the costly court case. They are now paying a research company £60,000 of our money to do a new consultation... and now they are giving our money to big business."
The council and the research company Vector refuse to answer questions about who will be invited to the workshops. Vector argues that library campaigners are not their client - yet it is the taxpayer who will pay the bill! It subsequently emerged that the consultation seems to be targeting nursery school parents for whom transport is laid on.
Library users are not being targeted - this is a bit like repeating a survey until you get the desired response.
The last consultation was a sham - held in selected shopping centres during working hours; apparently this one has been designed to prove libraries are not wanted, despite the fact that the number of people using libraries in the county has gone up.
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Article dated 15 March 2012
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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