Letter: Libraries - Decision had been made

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The proposals were clearly not ‘at a formative stage’ because the plan to cut 30+ libraries was formed back in 2011 if not earlier, in 2010, shortly after the Central Government’s spending review.

Formative plans do not include a concurrent bid to run libraries at the same time as the consultation unless the plans are already well advanced enough to put forward a detailed document for each library under threat.

‘Adequate time’ has not been given for consideration and response from the County Council because the Council need the cuts to go through before the 2014/15 budgets are finalised, which means there is absolutely no flexibility in the timescale for the cuts. Not only that but it has been quite clear from the response of, in particular Nick Worth, that the Council has no intention of taking the consultation findings into account in any way, shape or form but that they will go ahead with their plans - plans that were already advanced by the time the consultation was started.

Quite clearly the consultation document was skewed so that certain responses were rendered impossible other than to write them in the additional comments after having been forced to respond in a way that was contradictory to the opinions and reasoning of the person filling in the consultation form.

Nick Worth has also made it quite clear that he has no intention of taking into account any of the consultation or petition responders, on the grounds that the response was poor. Even though the Sheffield Hallam University stated clearly that this was the best and most detailed response they’d had of any consultation they’d been involved in.

Furthermore that the number of responders to the Petition alone dwarfed the number of people who voted in May 2013 for the members of the Executive who will make the decision.“where a decision may affect substantial numbers of vulnerable persons, the statutory duties as to promoting equality will mean that decision-makers will need rigorous and accurate advice from officers and, of course, this requirement will have to be reflected in the consultation process.”

It is quite clear from the documentation I have seen and from the ludicrous pronouncements of Nick Worth that the Council have completely failed to carry out a full Equalities Impact Assessment. For Nick Worth to respond to queries regarding the difficulty of travelling to the nearest static library with the comment that ‘most people have two or three cars anyway’ is utterly reprehensible.

There has been little or no consideration given to how children, the elderly, the disabled and the vulnerable will access the replacement services or gain access to any of the remaining 15 static libraries.

The only consideration was made concerning access by public transport, where it is claimed that more than 90% of the public are within 30 minutes by public transport; this is quite clearly a total travesty,

The Council don’t appear to have carried out an Equalities Impact Assessment at all, they’ve only carried out a ‘Service Level Assessment’, which is not the same thing.

Lincolnshire Libraries campaigner