We have been warning this could happen…. LEGAL ACTION

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-18564096

http://news.uk.msn.com/mayor-faces-legal-action-on-budget-1

The campaign, with support of the Labour Group here in Doncaster, has been warning the Mayor and his Cabinet that their complete lack of consideration regarding the impact of closures and/or forcing management of libraries onto communities (the vast majority of whom are ill-equipped to cope) of Doncaster would open them up to Legal Action, and this has now come to pass.  This result of this hearing, 24th July 2012 at Leeds Combined Court Centre, will have a much wider impact than simply that of the situation regarding Doncaster’s Libraries, it will highlight the Mayoral System’s complete lack of accountability and underscore the undemocratic nature of the current ruling system here in Doncaster, one which we are now stuck with.

Mayor Davies, and your Cabinet, read through our past blogs and communications.  We tried to tell you.

Posted in About the Campaign, In The Media | 1 Comment

Mood Low…

Well…  65% of the 30.57% of Doncaster people who voted in the May 3rd elections have chosen to continue with the Mayoral System.  Whether this be a re-election of the current incumbent or another person it still means power in the hands of one person and as few as 2 people in a Cabinet.  Our arguments against the system and the disastrous actions of the Mayor in terms of Doncaster’s Libraries are well documented in previous posts…

Sadly it seems our fears are to be proven correct.  We have learnt that of the 25 original volunteers in Rossington Library, only 10 remain, a mere 3 months after re-opening as a ‘Community-run’ Library.  Reasons are unknown but perhaps the vounteers realised the magnitude and responsibilities required of them, and recognised this to be the remit of paid, trained, experienced and qualified Council employees.  We have not been informed of the situations within any other library and can only hope this is not replicated.  Not only are we left with a 2-tier system but our original suspicions, as we warned many, many months ago, are being realised with the stealthy closing and/or reducing of service in those Libraries the Cabinet and Mayor deemed unnecessary.  How they believe Doncaster can now fulfill its statutory requirement regarding provision of a comprehensive and efficient library service to those who live, work and are educated in the widely located boroughs of Doncaster is unfathomable.

We may be quiet, but we have not stopped. There is still time to donate and force the Mayor to reverse this travesty.  Please help us to match the Legal Aid funding granted to our campaign regarding a Judicial Review, which continues making its course.  Donations are welcomed in different ways, you could simply pass cash to a member of the campaign who will ensure it gets to our Treasurer John Sheppard. You could log in to your own paypal account and send funds directly to our campaign using the email address johnshep50@talktalk.net or you could contact John directly to request an address to where you could send a cheque (payable to ‘Save Our Libraries’), either by email or telephone on 07951382703.  Please, Please, PLEASE support us by sharing this information as widely as possible.

Posted in Update | 3 Comments

May 3rd – did you have your say?

Save Doncaster Libraries has been hearing worrying reports of people not receiving their polling cards, and even worse being turned away from polling stations when they arrive to exercise their right to vote, for the most tenuous of reasons.  Who knows how this will affect the results?  We urge anyone who has been treated so shabbily by the Council to contact us (email details are on the right) so we can compile a document to submit.  We cannot allow the Council to disable Doncaster Residents right to have their say in how they are run – and in such an important local election.

Save Doncaster Libraries campaigners have voted.  We have done our bit to try and rid the Council of its current dictatorial leadership model.  We cannot EVER enable one person to have such power as Mr Davies has, and risk the well-being of Doncaster resting on the whims if one such inept person.  Davies has systematically ignored petitions, protests, Overview and Scrutiny Committee call-ins, an amendment placed that would have minimised the damage… and has now forced campaigners along the route of a judicial review.  Has he been made aware, by his equally incompetent Cabinet, of the severe loss in the High Court of Surrey County Councils attempt to destroy their library service in a very similar manner (also reported by BBC News - ‘Surrey Library Volunteer decision ruled unlawful by High Court’)?  Is he so blithely unempathetic and uncaring that in these times of severe hardship and the leading of Doncaster Council employees into poverty through cuts to terms and conditions or redundancy (they could always volunteer to work their old roles, this seems to be the Mayoral and Cabinet thinking, how nice for someone on a Mayoral wage cut only so he could keep his teaching pension that was awarded before the current cuts to that provision are enforced!), that he is willing to spend more Council money in Court defending the indefensible?  It seems he is.

We can only hope that the Voters of Doncaster (those who were able) have shown their contempt for the man and the leadership model at yesterday’s polls.

Posted in About the Campaign, Closures, Get Involved, In The Media, Support | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Worrying Bias in Local Media

If one was to only read Doncaster’s local paper ‘The Free Press’, one would believe the population of Doncaster is all for the destruction of the Library Service.  Indeed it seems every week there are grinning volunteers gleefully extolling the new virtues of their ‘just opened’ community library, detailing ‘new initiatives’ and ‘exciting opportunities’ whilst the newly departed and now unemployed staff must look on with a sadness at the wilful ignorance of the myriad efforts they made when in post, and how much more they would have done had they not been handcuffed by a Council that looked in the opposite direction as they took away staff, resources, training and support.  Congratulations Mayor Davies you have achieved the 2-tier service and denigration of communities you so desired.

Destruction seen.

The volunteer groups are still all asking for supporters.  To read the forementioned local paper one would believe all Libraries have these groups set up.  This is not true, I have learned that my local branch, Wheatley, is to shut on Saturday.  Whether it will re-open who knows.  The Council website is, as usual, woefully out of date but it may be worth a look at its Find your Local Library pages. 

We can only hope the valiant volunteers manage to keep the buildings open as long as it takes for the Council to realise the devastating destruction forced through by the Mayor and his Cabinet, and reverse the decision.  There will always be a place for volunteers and ‘Friends of’ groups in a Library service.  Libraries have always been community resources.  But they should not be left to the communities to manage, fund, resource, account for and be legally responsible for.  Save Doncaster Libraries does not condemn the volunteer groups, we are sad that they are forced into being by an uncaring and dismissive Doncaster Leadership.

If the Mayor can ignore petitions, protests, advice, professional guidance, reports, plans, legal decisions from like services elsewhere and the wishes of the population, and railroad through plans in such a way, to the library service, what else is he willing to do?  Save Doncaster Libraries is fighting not only to save this vital service, but to ensure the Mayor obeys statutory obligations, legal consultation requirements and listens to the people.  To this end we are committing to a Judicial Review process, but, WE NEED YOUR HELP!  We must match legal aid funding.  Please give anything you can.  Donations are welcomed in different ways, you could simply pass cash to a member of the campaign who will ensure it gets to our Treasurer John Sheppard. You could log in to your own paypal account and send funds directly to our campaign using the email address johnshep50@talktalk.net or you could contact John directly to request an address to where you could send a cheque (payable to ‘Save Our Libraries’), either by email or telephone on 07951382703.

And remember, at the local elections on May 3rd YOU can tell the Mayor and his Cabinet exactly what you think of him, by voting out this dictatorial and undemocratic system of governance.

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Mayor shows his true colours

If there was any lingering doubt regarding the Mayor’s contempt for Doncaster’s Public Library Service and his determination to destroy it, these articles surely rid that once and for all. 

Mayor defends decision to veto £380,000 libraries investment

Mayor of Doncaster refuses to reopen libraries

Mr Davies clearly has no understanding of the concept of volunteer – this is a role that supports and enhances a service, not one that should take on all the responsibilities and pressures that belong to a paid service.  £380,000 would have ensured a paid member of staff in situ in ALL 14 threatened branches, supporting the volunteers and providing a professional service to users.  The paid member of staff would be able to go the extra mile that volunteers, with the best will, would be unable to do so, and would be an invaluable link to the library service as a whole.  This small amount of money would have enabled the communities of Denaby and Carcroft to have back their libraries, and for the other 12 threatened libraries to remain open and viable.  As it stands Doncaster will lose far more than it gains and the Mayor will simply gloat that those communities, who are not of an infrastructure to support volunteer-maintained libraries, just did not want them.

Save Doncaster Libraries continues to fight on.  For 2 years now we have attempted to make the man see sense.  We are now having to take legal action.  Help us to match the Legal Aid funding granted to our campaign regarding a Judicial Review, which continues making its course.  Donations are welcomed in different ways, you could simply pass cash to a member of the campaign who will ensure it gets to our Treasurer John Sheppard. You could log in to your own paypal account and send funds directly to our campaign using the email address johnshep50@talktalk.net or you could contact John directly to request an address to where you could send a cheque (payable to ‘Save Our Libraries’), either by email or telephone on 07951382703.

 

Posted in About the Campaign, Closures, Get Involved, In The Media | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Mayor refuses to save Denaby and Carcroft Libraries.

The news on BBC Radio Sheffield this morning has revealed that Mayor Davies has refused the proposed amendment to his budget which would fund the re-opening of Denaby and Carcroft libraries, and would also fund a paid member of staff in both those libraries and the remaining 12 being thrown to vounteers to run.  The news. and short soundbite from the Mayor. was heard by this campaigner at just after 8am during Toby Foster’s breakfast show.  During a short statement Mr Davies revealed that he believed he was the one with the power to set the budget, not the Councillors, and he did not want to amend the budget to allow for this change.  The amount in question was minimal in the extreme and indeed was reported as only one part of a 6-part amendment totalling £610,000. In short, the Mayor has revealed he is unable to maintain any flexibility whatsoever in his plans, is deaf to the pleas, protests and reasoned arguments of protestors, ignorant to costed and forward-thinking plans of others and fixated only on his original scheme to destroy Doncaster’s Libraries.  Doncaster Councillors have betrayed the service by approving this budget.  Make no mistake, this is an ideological attack on the Library service of Doncaster, one in a borough of high levels of unemployment, high adult illiteracy, over 23% of 16-25 year-olds being NEETs and nearly 40% having no independent online information access themselves.

If you wish to ask the Mayor yourself about this travesty, he is allowing members of the public 20 minutes prior to Cabinet meetings during which to do so.  Doug Wright, of SDL, has taken advantage of this opportunity, and was surprised to be the only member of the public to do so.  Do not be shy, the Mayor states

” “I am always happy to answer questions from any member of the public and am committed to being open and honest with people.

“Whenever I’m out and about I get stopped and asked questions so I thought it would be good to offer people a regular slot to come and talk to me.”

And if you remain unhappy, we can only recommend you let the Mayor and his Cabinet know so in the Mayoral Referendum poll of May 3rd.  To have your say on May 3rd, you must make sure you are registered to vote. For further information on the Referendum or voting, please call Doncaster Council’s Elections team on 01302 734649 or email elections@doncaster.gov.uk.  To check you are on the Electoral Register, you can (ironically) go to Central Library, Waterdale, Doncaster or to the Electoral Services Unit also in Waterdale, Doncaster. Alternatively you can call the Electoral Services Unit direct on telephone number (01302) 734658/734685 or email the elections people on the forementioned address. 

DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN!!!!  HELP US FIGHT THE PROPOSALS ALL THE WAY!!!  Help us to match the Legal Aid funding granted to our campaign regarding a Judicial Review, which continues making its course.  Donations are welcomed in different ways, you could simply pass cash to a member of the campaign who will ensure it gets to our Treasurer John Sheppard. You could log in to your own paypal account and send funds directly to our campaign using the email address johnshep50@talktalk.net or you could contact John directly to request an address to where you could send a cheque (payable to ‘Save Our Libraries’), either by email or telephone on 07951382703.

Posted in About the Campaign, Closures, Get Involved, In The Media | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We need your money!!! And further information regarding DMBCs true efforts.

As we have said previously, we are making all manner of effort to match the Legal Aid funding granted to our campaign regarding a Judicial Review, which continues making its course.  Donations are welcomed in different ways, you could simply pass cash to a member of the campaign who will ensure it gets to our Treasurer John Sheppard. You could log in to your own paypal account and send funds directly to our campaign using the email address johnshep50@talktalk.net or you could contact John directly to request an address to where you could send a cheque (payable to ‘Save Our Libraries’), either by email or telephone on 07951382703.

Information has been passed to us, regarding the efforts of one Parish Council in Doncaster who are attempting to ensure their local library does not close, despite the best efforts of the Council to make this so.

Edenthorpe Parish Council attempting to staff their library with volunteers.

Whilst taking issue that members of public may have no interest in the library (we have talked before regarding marketing, making relevant, historic insufficient funding etc etc) the points of interest are the issues surrounding a premises which is rented, not owned (a problem Sprotborough Council have also encountered) – premises for a library are not a guarantee therefore how can a voluntary group take over what is not available? Edenthorpe are also realistic in their estimation regarding number of volunteers needed.  As they state Bawtry have over 70, this is close to sufficient it seems, Edenthorpe has thus far a generous estimate of one quarter of this, another threatened branch (Wheatley) has had merely 5 people come forward.  No doubt the Mayor will see this as proof of a community not wanting its library, in fact it is proof of what we at SDL have been saying all along – the majority of communities within Doncaster do not have the infrastructure to enable a library staffed by volunteers.  We regret that Edenthorpe Parish Council has had to resort to such measures and despair at its acceptance that such change as that being foisted upon its library is a necessity, but SDL wholeheartedly sympathises with their plight and the situation into which they, and 13 other branches have been forced.

Finally – a reminder of why we keep this fight going.

This is why we fight for libraries, for our future. This is the genuinely independent opinion of one of Doncasters younger library users.

Please help us and donate anything you are able to.  Thank you.

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We NEED your help – Legal Aid to match

Some of the SDL campaigners start our fundraising efforts

Efforts to match the Legal Aid funding awarded to our brave resident heading our fight for justice through the Courts, have begun. A hardy group of campaigners stood outside Doncasters’ fantastic Markets to inform and enable people to drop cash in buckets.  We are also commencing targeted requesting, and facebook/twitter campaigning. We need to raise a significant amount in a very short time.

Donations are welcomed in different ways, you could simply pass cash to a member of the campaign who will ensure it gets to our Treasurer John Sheppard. You could log in to your own paypal account and send funds directly to our campaign using the email address johnshep50@talktalk.net or you could contact John directly to request an address to where you could send a cheque (payable to ‘Save Our Libraries’), either by email or telephone on 07951382703.

Please help.  We would hate this effort, (to ensure the Mayor and his Cabinet do right by the libraries, and are reminded of their statutory duties regarding ALL public services when wishing to make changes), to fail.

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SAVE DONCASTER LIBRARIES AND JUDICIAL REVIEW

Save Doncaster Libraries is finally able to reveal the results of some weeks of negotiation, discussion and research, to reveal that we will be fully supporting LEGAL ACTION against Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council regarding the actions they have undertaken against their public library service.

SDL has never said the public library service was perfect, we acknowledged improvements and changes were necessary.  However we dispute this meant wholesale closure of Denaby and Carcroft and vehemently decry the change to Community Libraries of 12 others, whereby communities were forced to volunteer or lose them (closure by stealth).  Moreover we believe the council have been detrimental in their statutory duties to properly consult throughout the 18 months of the process so far and remain disgusted that, at no point, have alternatives even been considered despite being proposed by ourselves and the Labour Group (we remain, however, apolitical).  For many months we have been warning the Mayor and his Cabinet that they were leaving themselves wide open to Legal Action, but they chose, at all stages, to ignore us.

The Legal Action has now been started.  Public Interest Lawyers, on behalf of a local resident, are calling for a Judicial Review to stop any further unnecessary closures.

To support this Doncaster resident Save Doncaster Libraries are urgently asking for financial support to fund the case.

The Claimant is being partly funded by the Legal Services Commission.  However, because the case can benefit a large number of people, the Legal Services Commission is requiring that a portion of the legal costs is provided by the community.  The view taken by the Legal Services Commission is that part of the claim ought to be funded by the large number of people that it can benefit.  SDL needs your help to raise that money.

Any donation, no matter how small, can be managed by contacting SDL treasurer John Sheppard, email address johnshep50@talktalk.net; telephone 07951382703, or by contacting the blog author (see contact link above) for discussion of your preferred method. Please note that if donating by cheque it should be made out to ‘Save Our Libraries’.

SDL will be examining all potential funding avenues, in order that we can make a success of this action, and ensure the Council look after their library service, and indeed do not attempt to destroy any other service in such a manner again.  The Council need to be called to account, to address their responsibilities and act appropriately.  SDL is delighted to support the local resident in the fight to ensure residents are heard and that the Cabinet and Council realise they cannot simply dictate and ride roughshod over the wishes of the 15000 (and more) Doncaster residents who signed the Save Our Libraries petition.

Posted in Get Involved | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Latest news from the SDL HQ

Well, things are getting interesting here at SDL towers.  Perhaps the most important news is that we are considering and consulting regarding legal action.  The Council, led by the Mayor and his Cabinet, have proven so inept and unable to consult regarding changes in a proper, fit and statutorily required manner that it seems we may have a very good case for a judicial review.  Watch this space.

Speaking of the Mayor – there will be a referendum regarding the Mayoral position as it stands in Doncaster, on May 3rd, within the local elections process (to save costs).  Despite his manifesto promise to hold such a referendum he is now saying he believes this to be a waste of money and that the residents of Doncaster clearly want him in post.  Newsflash Mr D, no, the majority do NOT want you.  His mis-leading of the entire Libraries debacle is only one example of his ineptness, and in the interests of fairness we have tried very hard to find a positive outcome from any of the Mayor’s ideas and initiatives but have failed, and we can only encourage Doncaster voters to remember this come the May 3rd vote – and kick the man and any potential future Dictator Mayor out of consideration.

Goodbye Mayor D

Goodbye to Mayor Davies from all at SDL

The DCMS Library Closures Commission is now well underway and the content of all submissions is available for viewing (herein linked). Three individual members of SDL past and present submitted, all prior to the council itself submitting.  We thank Gill Johnson, Lauren Smith and Lynne Coppendale for taking the time and effort to do so, and view the DMBC effort with wry interest.  The result of the commission, which is currently listening to evidence from select persons and groups, will be one to watch and will hopefully have a positive outcome for Public Libraries nationally.

Finally, with some regret but with a genuine desire to assist all of Doncaster’s Libraries in remaining open, we publish the website of the Sprotborough Community Library.  Whilst no-one is happy, and all are concerned, at DMBC’s forcing of Doncaster residents to take over libraries as volunteers (with minimal support or funding) or see them close, we publish this as we are fully aware that if sufficient volunteers are not found, the libraries forced into this position will close, and then when the Council see the folly and error of their ways there will be no way back to a full, ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service.

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