Ryeview – February 2011

John Clark writes…

First published: February 2011

Hypocrisy is alive and well and living in Ryedale. In the same week, the Tories have saved both our forests and our Libraries. Where there has been a public outcry the government and North Yorkshire County Council have backed down. I’m not sure about the forests. It may have been a mistake. It may even have been a financial miscalculation and will they try again later? We will see.

As for the Libraries it is a ‘Con’. All that has been agreed is that ‘none will be closed precipitously’. This was decided at the North Yorkshire Country Council Full Council last Wednesday. The very next day this had become ‘NO DECISION was taken as to how the savings are to be met and it was clearly stated [in the Full Council] that this would not be done until the completion of the consultation’. The consultation ends on the 28th February. Five days ‘stay of execution’ doesn’t seem very long. Even I don’t believe the guillotine will fall immediately. Maybe the closures will happen after the 5th May. Until then the offer is:

  • Remove the mobile library service.
  • Close smaller branches.
  • Keep the bigger libraries open as now.

A saving of £1million in the 1st year and £0.5million in each of the next two years has to be achieved. Each of the 20 plus branch libraries will close unless the local communities ‘volunteer’. What a disgrace. People are being made to pay twice; once through their Council Tax and again through fundraising and volunteering.

The two Liberals on North Yorkshire Country Council put forward what we believe is a much fairer solution.

  • The mobile service should b reduced from once every 3 weeks to once a month – a saving of £375,000.
  • Reduce the managers by 25% – a saving of £281,000.
  • Halve the frequency of the delivery service round the county – a saving of £93,000.
  • Reduce the books / magazines bought by 20% – a saving of £189,000.
  • Reduce opening hours for all libraries by 20% over the next year – a saving of £537,000.

Together these would give a saving of £1million in this year and a further £0.5million next year. Savings have to be made. Otherwise there will be even deeper cuts into the support for the elderly, the ill and all those who need social services – all those who haven’t the strength to campaign. However the library cuts DO NOT HAVE TO HIT only the rural people who use the mobiles and the smaller branch libraries.

All the Conservative County Councillors on North Yorkshire voted not to debate our proposals. The Conservatives (including all 5 from Ryedale) did not support the Liberal amendment to spread the pain evenly.

I represent Pickering but I believe that Pickering should take its share of the cuts. The Tories followed the Whips to close the mobiles and the smaller branches. This at the same time as telling the public they will ‘fight to keep their library open’. This is hypocrisy. Hopefully the public will see through it.

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