Labour-run Brent Council has been causing dismay for closing libraries without allowing volunteers to keep them going.
In a report in the Daily Telegraph, the Council leader Cllr Ann John, says:
“We didn’t turn our faces against a Big Society solution."
But Margaret Bailey, a leader of the Save Kensal Rise Library Campaign says:
“The council is ideologically opposed to communities running public services: they don’t want to be seen to support the Big Society.” What would happen, she argues, if the local community took over the library and ran it better?
Bailey is spot on. Volunteers running the libraries (who could include retired librarians) might well provide a better service. For example they could keep the library open longer hours – or open more convenient hours for residents.
Of course there are still some costs involved in running a library even with volunteers. Buying books is an example. But Labour-run Hounslow has cut the book budget by 96%. Wouldn't reducing staff be a better way to save money? Preferably admin staff but if necessary replacing some of the paid librarians with volunteers.