Monday, 8 October 2012

Friern Barnet Library - The true cost

First, a plug for some live music at Friern Barnet library
Didgitalis, featuring Andre Espeut this Weds 10th, following the Court case (10am) -  8.30pm. Free
Please join us for the Court Case & the music.
Secondly apologies to those of you awaiting info from last weeks meeting between various groups associated with the campaign to Save Friern Barnet Library and the Council. I had promised an update, but due to pressure of work and malfunctioning laptops, I've not had an opportunity to do this.

Let us look at the reasons the council state they need to close Friern Barnet library.

1. The Council want a capital receipt of £430,000 to pay for improvements at other libraries

2. The Council say they need to trim £1.4 million per annum from the library budget.

So, if you are elderly, have limited mobility or you are a young person who needs somewhere withing walking distance of your home to study and you live in Mill Hill, you will get improvements to the infrastructure of your library.

If  however you have the same issues and you are a citizen of Friern Barnet library, what then? As far as you are concerned, the council has withdrawn library provision. As an elderly or disabled person, in effect the council has discriminated against you because of your postcode.

The council claimed it had plans for a "replacement library". This is not the case, as for anyone with limited mobility, the library is now too far away.

So for anyone who regularly used Friern Library and now has no library, there is a case to answer, should they seek legal remedy. In Mill Hill, Etz Chaim school has been prevented from moving into premises in the former Wyevale Garden Centre as local diabled residents sought legal remedy when they felt the council had ignored their needs. They used to meet at the cafe in the Garden Centre, which was DDA compliant. As the council facilitated the closure, they took up a legal challenge. The case has not been resolved, but there is clearly a strong enough legal argument to hold up the school.

In the case of the library at Friern, this is a far more cut and dried case.

Last week, the CEO of Barnet Council, Mr Nick Walkley resigned to join Haringey Council. Barnet had claimed that they needed to pay high salaries to attract the best people. Mr Walkley left, taking a pay cut of £11,000, which demonstrates that it is the job, not the salary which matters. Mr Walkley had been promoted internally, so the argument could not be more spurious. The taxpayers alliance found that 47 members of staff at Barnet Council were being paid more than £100,000 last year. If each one of them, followed Mr Walkleys example and took an £11,000 pay cut, then Barnet Council would make a net saving of over half a million pounds. This would easily plug the gap which Barnet Council claim required the destruction of the library service.

It is sickening that so called "public servants" trouser huge paychecks (many not paying the full rate of tax due to "tax efficient contracts") and are prepared to see the old, the young, the sick and the vulnerable lose vital services so they can have expensive holidays in the Maldives.

That my friends is all we really need to know about the true cost of the cuts in Barnet

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