Southend Trades Union Council

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Monday, 12 November 2012

UNISON warns of cuts in Southend's library service

Libraries review a cover for cuts?

Southend Council are undertaking a review to ‘consider the future direction’ of their library services but a trade union warns that when estimated savings of £32.5 million need to be made by the council over the next three years, this review may be used as a cover to make drastic cuts or even close libraries.
Southend Local Government branch of Unison, which represents workers in the library service, points out that though the purpose of the review is “ensuring libraries to be fit for the future” this is to be done “whilst reducing cost to assist in meeting the required Council spending reductions”.
Libraries across the country have faced severe cuts to services and opening hours over the last few years. For instance, Surrey County Council is already advancing plans to staff 10 libraries solely with volunteers whilst 13 branch libraries across Leeds were closed. This is the kind of consequence that Unison wants to avoid for the people of Southend.
Southend UNISON believes that libraries offer a host of vital free services to local communities such as access to books, information and computers. The union also says that the key to libraries being able to deliver a quality service is having knowledgeable, well trained staff to hand with access to adequate resources. Libraries are a free service, used by many, which local communities can be proud of and should fight for. The Councils ‘fact finding’ consultation asking the public what they want from their Library Service began on Monday 1st October and ends on 6thJanuary 2013.
The union is encouraging library users to play a full part in the consultation. They urge people to make sure there really is a representative response and, of course, to make clear that the public supports a free, well-funded and professional library service.

Claire Wormald, secretary of Southend UNISON Local Government Branch said:

“Libraries are an important free service that is open to the entire community. That’s why we are urging all residents to stand up for Southend Libraries by taking part in Southend Council’s upcoming public consultation and firmly state that they will not accept reductions in opening times, staffing levels, or the resources used to provide this key service. Cutting library services will be yet another false economy that will store up problems for the future.”

Southend Borough Council Webpage – information on the process and option to participate part in review online:

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