9 January 2014
** Sheffield Green Party urges people to make their views about library closures known by completing the public consultation which ends on January 10th. **
Green Party Cllr Rob Murphy and Brian Webster (pictured) join members of Broomhill Library Action Group and others outside the Town Hall.
Sheffield Green Party supported recent protests against proposals that will close up to 16 of 27 branch libraries.
The Green Party's Brian Webster commented:
“There was a big turnout and 10 petitions with more 22,000 signatures were presented to the council.
Anna Mayer, 11 years old, from Lydgate Junior School helped present the Broomhill library petition and spoke well about the impact losing the library would have on her life.
Cllrs Rob Murphy and Jillian Creasy spoke in the debate and the Labour administration were left in no doubt about the strength of the citywide opposition to their proposals.
Greens continue to work with branch and citywide campaigners to keep the momentum going as we go into the crucial 2 month period from the end of the consultation on January 10th to the council budget meeting on March 7th.
Sheffield Green Party calls on the Council to come up with revised proposals before the final vote on the budget on 7th March. Greens continue to campaign to keep all Sheffield libraries open.
Green Group leader, Councillor Jillian Creasy commented :
“Sheffield has cut the library service by 52% in the last three years. Statistics show Sheffield spending per head comes 16th of 16 authorities sampled by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
"There has been no meaningful consultation despite recognising the scale of the problem two years ago. The first round of consultation was completely superficial; the second asked for expressions of interest, but didn’t give the groups enough information to work with or enter discussion with them; the third and final round imposes Labour’s “one size fits all” cuts in a pattern which bears no relation to existing services or the communities they serve."
"If substantial change were really the only option, the Council must recognise that libraries cannot be run and managed by volunteers without funding and professional staff," Cllr Creasy continued.
"The Council has refused to support any volunteers working alongside professional staff in council-run libraries, so there's no experience of this model.
"Community groups need time and help to get from the current situation to the point of working with each other and the Council – the administration completely failed to kick-start this process when they came into power in 2011."
Sheffield Green Party Chair and Broomhill resident, Jon Ashe, comments :
“Our local library branches are vital to the communities they serve, especially for people who don't have access to the internet. Neighbouring shops may also suffer because of reduced footfall if local libraries close. We want the Council to have genuine and constructive discussions with residents before decisions are taken.”
Sheffield's library budget was £9m in 2010 and £6.014m in 2013/14. The Council now proposes a further cut of £1.669m over 2 years to 2015/16. This is a 52% cut from 2010, more than many other services. £1.669m is just 0.12% of the Council’s overall budget of £1.392 billion.
CIPFA showed Sheffield as 16th out of 16 in a sample of authorities for net library expenditure per head of population. Average expenditure was £14.83 per head; Sheffield only spent £10.75. (P19 - 2011/12 Actuals & 2012/13 Estimates)