Beaten on libraries, Government looks to change the law

Call Me Dave pictured in a library: but have you ever seen him read a book?

The American magazine, Sports Illustrated, used to have a weekly feature “Signs that the Apocalypse is upon us”, using the latest toe-curling examples of the madness and avarice of professional sport.

Here at Inside Croydon Towers, we’re seriously considering a similar feature: “Signs that the lunatics are in charge of the asylum”. For example…

Across the country, local residents – the Big Society, if you like – band together and put together a reasonable and compelling argument against the Philistinism of their local councils with their proposals to close local libraries. A main plank of their argument is: THE LAW, namely the relevant sections of 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act.

So what happens next? Like petulant little boys who lose a playground game of football, the ConDem government now looks to take its ball back (what do you expect from a bunch of spoilt Old Etonians?). They want to change the law so that their chums on local councils – such as in Cameron’s Crazy Council in Croydon – can close the libraries after all.

Where was this in the Conservative party’s manifesto last year? Is this another LibDem promise that they are about to break? Where is the mandate to do this?

This is how Big Eric Pickles’ Communities and Local Government department’s website has broken the news “… the Government is carrying out a wide ranging review to establish the duties which are no longer needed and to remove them, giving local authorities freedom to operate in a way that meets local needs and priorities”. Our italics.

No sense of irony: this from a government that is so keen to give “local authorities freedom to operate in a way that meets local needs and priorities” that they have used a form of financial blackmail to force every borough to leave levels of Council Tax unchanged.

  • Point of interest: in a recent consultation conducted by Conservative-run Croydon Council, around two-thirds of respondents said that they were prepared to have an increase in Council Tax to help pay for services such as their local libraries.  “Local needs and priorities”, eh, Eric?

The Government’s review lasts until April 25. Library campaigners are calling on as many people as possible to take part in the consultation here.

The campaigners say: “We cannot underestimate how important your participation in this review is.  Please complete the online form and tell as many people as possible.  We have six weeks in which to send the government a strong message about our public library service.  Let’s make sure they hear all of our voices.”

For more on the libraries campaign, click here.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Gavin Barwell, Libraries, London-wide issues, Malcolm Wicks MP, Richard Ottaway MP. Bookmark the permalink.

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