Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Friern Barnet Peoples Library on the One Show

Robert Rams vision for a new library in Barnet
Yesterday evening, the One Show on BBC1 contained a feature on Friern Barnet Peoples library and a short interview with yours truly - you can watch the interview on BBC IPlayer here - - the main guest was Melvyn Bragg, who was vocal in his appreciation for the contribution of libraries to society. It seems that everyone apart from Councillor Robert Rams, who is responsible for the library service appreciates the need for a good network of libraries. Sadly the council, as ever economical with the truth, are spinning the "we have to save a million pounds" argument. This is spurious, because the only reason they have to cut the budget is because they have decided to cut it.

This blog, together with the other Barnet bloggers, emailed Council leader Richard Cornelius with a list of proposals that would easily cover the cost of running Friern Library. Recently it was revealed that 47 individuals working for Barnet Council were paid over £100,000 per year. We suggested that these individuals should receive a 20% pay cut if they earn more than £150,000 per annum and 10% cut if they earn £100,000 - £150,000. By my maths, this would realise a minimum of £470,000. The budget for running Friern Library is a pittance compared to this figure. Of course, Barnet Council summarily dismissed this suggestion. Council Leader Richard Cornelius never even bothered to reply. I am rather disappointed with this display of bad manners by the leader of the council.

The peoples library was originally suggested by this blog as a protest to highlight the need for a properly run and funded library in Friern Barnet. The fact we've been recognised by Melvyn Bragg, the BBC and just about every sane and rational person in the Borough as having made an excellent case for reopening the library cannot be ignored any more. It is a source of great frustration that a philistine such as Rams is charged with running such a valuable service. Rams recently revealed that he was brought up in Southend. The fact that he purely sees Barnet as a convenient stop off point in his political career is quite clear from his attitude. I've lived in the Borough for all of my life, my parents are buried here and my children go to school here. In short I have a great personal investment in the Borough. That is why I'm fighting tooth and nail for the retention of vital services. I don't see Barnet as a convenient stop off point in my career, it is my life. If you wonder why I fight so passionately for our local services, it is because one day I hope to grow old in Barnet. I will need the services which the Barnet Conservatives are destroying.

I daresay that Rams plans a retirement in a leafy Tory Shire somewhere, sitting on his nice pension, paid by the public purse. He has made it quite clear that he sees librarys and books as old fashioned and outdated. He would rather see the libraries run by Starbucks, with a book section tucked away in the corner. When he launched the original strategic library review he suggested that people should buy books from Tesco's. This showed a completely out of touch politician, with no understanding of the finances of raising a family on a tight budget, or the challenges for elderly pensioners in Barnet.

It seems that people are waking up to the value of the library service. Let's hope that the message gets through to the boneheads at Barnet who just don't seem to get it.

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