Disconcerting News from Caroline Flint

Caroline Flint, MP for Don Valley and member of the shadow cabinet, sent us this letter:

 

This is a very disappointing response. Although we appreciate Caroline’s signature on the petition, the threat to Doncaster Library Services extends far beyond the closure of one building. We are campaigning for a comprehensive and efficient service, which we believe Doncaster Council are already failing to provide. The apparent acceptance of sever cuts to an already struggling library service is unacceptable, and we are not convinced that Caroline understands the breadth and value of the “key service” she acknowledges.

Furthermore, the consultancy report which the council claim to be taking into account for their review of library services (due to be published on 11th January 2011) categorically states the following:

A study of alternative governance models such as cultural trusts and commissioning was undertaken to identify the potential for these options for Doncaster’s Libraries.
Key findings reveal that choosing alternative governance models depend on a fit and functioning service that can be transferred as a real asset.
At the current time, the library services are not fit to become part of a trust model. Trusts are not a solution to problems but a way to grow and develop services, and there are major improvement issues that would stop any group of trustees from sensibly taking on the libraries until these are resolved.

It is therefore extremely disconcerting to discover that Caroline Flint has been actively encouraging the possibility of alternative governance.

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5 Responses to Disconcerting News from Caroline Flint

  1. Chris says:

    I also find Caroline Flint’s support of ‘alternative governance’ of her local library alarming. There are local libraries in the UK now run mainly by volunteers, but they are linked in a positive way to the Library Service, and enjoy the benefits of professional support & access to stock. Warmsworth must NOT try to ‘go it alone’, otherwise their lovely little library will decline rapidly into a tatty collection of books of purely ‘popular’ type, with volunteers, albeit well-meaning folks, merely acting as custodians, not promoters.
    Also alarming is the fact that the future of Doncaster Library Service, in the form of a Libraries Strategic Plan for Doncaster, will be discussed by Cabinet on 11th January. The concern is who has the requisite knowledge & experience to discuss/plan/consider what is bound to have far-reaching consequences for Doncaster residents? Certainly not the elected members, and definitely not the senior staff currently employed in the Library Service. And by the New Year there will be even fewer staff remaining who have any knowledge whatever of how to run a library service, for good or bad! Yet more staff are about to take redundancy/VER.
    As I see it, the most serious issue is not merely the fact that DMBC is trying to vandalize & de-skill the Library Service, but that the elected members are doing it WITHOUT the essential advice and input of professional and thoroughly experienced practitioners.
    There is no sign of any silver lining in this sad situation, not the slightest.

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  3. Donz says:

    The best value review of 2002 said potenitally the opposite. This was look at extensively and if the leisure went into trust at that time it would be advantagous for libraries to do so. Look at wigan and hounslow!!! Someone hasn’t done their research properly!!

  4. Lauren says:

    Donz,

    Libraries expert Annie Mauger conducted a report into Doncaster Library and Information Services, which you can read here (opens as a pdf): http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/43674/response/111822/attach/4/Doncaster%20Libraries%20Review%20Final.pdf.

    In it, she says:

    “A study of alternative governance models such as cultural trusts and commissioning was undertaken to identify the potential for these options for Doncaster’s Libraries.

    “Key findings reveal that choosing alternative governance models depend on a fit and functioning service that can be transferred as a real asset.
    At the current time, the library services are not fit to become part of a trust model. Trusts are not a solution to problems but a way to grow and develop services, and there are major improvement issues that would stop any group of trustees from sensibly taking on the libraries until these are resolved.

    “The focus for now needs to be on ensuring that the core Library Service is fit for purpose so that it can then offer to deliver services that meet broader priorities in a more structured way. To achieve this, there must be an understanding at a strategic level of what is on offer and the skills and attitudes at the front line to deliver it. This should be a core objective built into a plan for change.”

    I’d be inclined to take the word of an expert in an up-to-date review, rather than the word of a council which has been exposed as dysfunctional and a department which has admitted it is unable to do its job, from a report written eight years ago.

  5. Pingback: Libraries. | Young in London

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