In my last blog I explained my position about why I am a library campaigner – in an age of bullet points and power point we sometimes forget to listen to the full story. That is exactly what the minister, Ed Vaizey is doing.
A brief statement in respect of exercising statutory powers on a case by case basis merits an equally brief reply.
The courts consider matters on a case by case basis in evidential terms. As the minister tacitly acknowledges, each case must be decided on it’s own facts. The courts also have the ideas of group actions and using discussion to narrow down the issues before a case reaches a final hearing. A court hearing should be a matter of last resort. Lord Woolf’s reforms of the Civil justice system under the last Conservative administration introduced these ideas and they have served the country well since.
Yet now the minister expects the public to either wait for him to call public inquiries in the numerous counties around the country with libraries under threat? To waste public money on hundreds of inquiries. Or is the plan to wait, see how many calls there are and then say they’ll all be considered together or that the minister will only intervene in selected cases?
It strikes me that this is one of those plans that seemed like a good idea at the time – with long term unintended consquences that everyone is spelling out but the minister is not listening to. Minister – our concern is that there is nothing innovative about cutting jobs and services to demonstrate financial savings in the short term. The question we are all asking is whether it is actually socially and economically sustainable for the long term?
Finally, and importantly, a personal apology, to the people from Voices for the Library, Public Libraries News and all those who have been raising their voices to sound the alarm for such a long time.
I am sorry I didn’t listen or hear you. I really wish I had understood what you were saying earlier. I hope it isn’t too late to change things.
Minister – it’s actually quite easy – you can borrow those last four sentences anytime you want. We will all think more of you if you do.
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