Sunday, 10 October 2010

Barnet Library Closure Program - A strong message to Barnet Council

Yesterday our "Save Barnets Library Service" roadshow rolled into East Barnet (the ward which Councillor Robert Rams - architect of the scheme represents) and North Finchley. I must admit that I was rather apprehensive about setting up a stall outside Sainsburys in Robert Ramsbottoms ward. I did wonder if all of his friends and supporters would come down and chase me away. Mind you, faint heart never won fair lady, so I felt it had to be done. Some friends ran the Finchley stall.

So how did it go? It was actually quite amazing. Guess how many people spoke up in support of Robert Ramsbottom and his scheme? None whatsoever. In fact the only people who seemed to know who he was were readers of this blog. On guy, who admitted to voting for him said "Why didn't you expose him as a twat before the election?" I replied that he kept quiet about the Library closures program until he got re-elected. Another comment that several old ladies said was "Did he really say people could order books online and pick them up at Tescos". I hadn't realised it, but this is a really sore point in East Barnet. Tescos are fighting a strong campaign to open a supermarket, which many local people are opposed to. They were none too impressed that Tescos seems to be the supermarket of choice for their local councillor. There were quite a few comments that when Tescos replaces the Library, someone who isn't a twat will have to replace Mr Ramsbottom.

Perhaps the sweetest moment was the old dear who told me that she'd never used the internet until her granddaughter had shown her my blog about the library. She then said she'd never used the word twat either, till she read about Robert Ramsbottom. I felt momentarily embarrassed, but she said "In his case it seems very apt". Another really nice thing was the teenage boy who came up and said "Please can you explain to me what exactly this is all about". I went through the whole process of how the council make decisions and how the proposals are in committee. He asked if the decision had been made. I explained that it hadn't yet and if we organise a strong campaign, councillors will think again. He took a stack of leaflets and said "I'm now your PR man in Barnet". I didn't ask his name, but if he's reading this he made me proud of the young people in Barnet. He explained just how much he loved his library.

So how have we done so far. When I counted the completed forms this morning, we had 780 signatures from the 2 saturday stalls in Mill Hill, and the one in East Barnet. I've been told there are at least 200 from the Finchley Stall and we have over 100 for the online petition. That means that in total we have collected over 1,000 signatures. My objective was to collect 500 initially. We got 250 for the 1 hour free parking in Mill Hill petition. The fact that we've already receive twice that is a massive achievement. I hadn't anticipated how many people would want to come on board and help.

One other thing which was hugely pleasing is the fact that the Barnet press sent a reporter down. He took a stack of photos of people signing up. He commented on how many people were taking the leaflets reading them and then coming back to sign.

I will keep you updated, but please sign the on line petition. Please copy and paste this link into an email, stick it on your facebook wall and say "SIGN THIS". Email it to your four best friends in Barnet and say "please sign it".  Email me for a hard copy of the petition if you want to collect a few signatures. When your done, I'll come and collect it. From what I've seen, the vast majority of residents in Barnet feel strongly that we should reject the closures. It will only take 1 minute to sign this petition. Please do it now, if you haven't.


Mrs Angry said...

I think there is actually a very important point in your explanation for the failure to spot the full twatdom of Robert Rammsbottom pre election: this council was not elected on a mandate to a. award themselves a massive pay rise, or b. the massacre of our services that they are planning. In fact there was precious little that the electorate could consider ebfore the vote, and of course deliberately so. Residents could not judge the finer points of Future Shape because, as the Grant Thornton report has revealed, there are still no finer points to judge. The electorate was duped, and yet the government tells us that our four yearly election opportunity is the only way in which we can modify or influence the actions of local authorities. This is the lie of the Big Society, that it will empower local communnities. It won't: in fact we will be even further from any control over what our councils do in our name.

Unknown said...

Go for it Rog,

Many happy hours in MH library, it was an excellent service, and needed still.