Rossington Parish Council held a meeting on Monday 14th February. Below is an email to Mayor Davies summarising the event and issues discussed.
Rossington Parish Council
7 St Chads Way
Doncaster DN5 7LF
Dear Mayor Davies
At its meeting held on 8/2/11 Rossington Parish Council formed a Library Preservation Committee to actively campaign to keep the library at McConnell Crescent.
The Committee met on Monday 14th February. There were 5 parish councillors present and 7 members of the public. A long discussion took place covering :
- Your negative attitude towards libraries and library books, as evidenced at your recent visit to Bawtry
- The proposed moving of the Rossington library to Holmescarr, staffed by volunteers. It was felt this would be the death of the library
- The ‘call in’ to Scrutiny by many DMBC Members across the Borough, and the absence of ‘call in’ from any of the 3 Rossington DMBC councillors
- The lack of support from DMBC Rossington Ward Councillors
- Ownership of the library site
- Library usage
- The difficulties of running reliable public services with volunteers
- The Public Libraries Act 1964
- The legal challenges being made by Somerset & Gloucestershire
- Mobile libraries / postal services
- DMBC’s unfeasibly low Council Tax
- Library Summer Activity programmes
- The 14000 signatures already obtained
- The demonstration planned for Saturday 19/2/11 noon at the Mansion House
- The DMBC Full Council Meeting on Monday 21/2/11 10am
The committee made the following decisions :
- To write to the 3 DMBC Ward Members and C Flint MP outlining an expectation that they would support the retention of the library at McConnell Crescent
- To write to Mayor Davies on the following points:
- Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964 provisions
- Insufficient consultation
- Deprivation status
- Isolation and travelling implications not properly considered
- Special users ignored – e.g. Hesley School
- To have a stall at the market on Friday 18/2/11 morning and at the Co-op on Friday 18/2/11 afternoon where the public can sign a petition
- To publicise and encourage residents to attend the Demonstration at the Mansion House on Saturday 19/2/11 at 12 Noon
- To publicise and encourage residents to attend the Full Council Meeting at the Mansion House on Monday 21/2/11 at 10 am
- Library Preservation Committee to meet again on Tuesday 22/2/117 pm to review progress
Taking up specific points :-
Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964 provisions
This Act puts DMBC under a duty to provide a “comprehensive and efficient library service”. Despite this clear duty, library services have historically been underfunded and this vicious circle of low funding has naturally led to a decline in service and in usage. This decline is in part down to the Mayor’s obsession with keeping Council Tax levels unfeasibly low. You don’t have to close a home for the elderly to keep the libraries open. All you need to do is bring the C Tax level up to the average of the Webber Craig Group of which Doncaster is a member.
Consultation Process / Deprivation / Isolation / Special Library Users
Census Data shows that Rossington is a deprived community. It is also isolated geographically and out on a limb. For those deprived members of the community, travelling to Doncaster, or to a branch library that might still be open, with their children, is prohibitively expensive and time consuming. The suggestion that opening up a facility at the Holmescarr School under a volunteer arrangement would suffice, is disingenuous. The place is falling to bits and the business model under which the building has been managed appears to be not financially viable. The parish council’s Library Preservation Committee has no confidence whatsoever in the Holmescarr option and believes it would be the death of the library.
Rossington Library has special library users such as Hesley School. This does not seem to have figured in the analysis. What is abundantly clear is that a ‘policy’ decision was made to close the libraries before proper analysis was undertaken and before the public were consulted. This stalinist approach does not fit well with DMBC’s claimed values and is in breach of DMBC’s own Code of Corporate Governance !
In view of the questionable legality, the lack of rigour in the consultation process, and the clear benefits to retaining the present Library for an isolated and deprived community and special users, Rossington Library Preservation Committee expects the Full DMBC Council Meeting, including the mayor, on Monday 21st February 2011, to cancel the Library Closure Programme.