Open letter to Jeremy Hunt. We await his courteous reply.

It’s been a difficult few weeks for Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt.  Jeremy Hunt at Leveson

Last week, he endured six straight hours of questioning by Robert Jay QC at the Leveson Enquiry set up to investigate the phone hacking scandal:

Mr Jay asks whether Mr Hunt feels comfortable with the series of texts between himself and James Murdoch. Mr Hunt says his interpretation was that in his quasi-judicial role a “courteous reply to a text message was fine”.

So Murdoch’s acolytes get immediate replies to messages out of courtesy, while tens of thousands of library campaigners are ignored. Hmm.

His department ignored us for a year, then rushed a meeting in April 2012. Meanwhile they have been in close contact with Brent for 10 months.

Despite all our evidence, we are still being ignored. Read on (it’s worth it):

Continue reading

The next stage: challenge the DCMS

Louise Mensch and Tom Watson from Media & Culture Select CommitteeAlthough our legal challenge through the courts has come to an end, it is not over. We are now going to challenge the Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt on his department’s failure to investigate library closures for more than a year.

We will do this on two fronts. Today, our legal team has sent a letter demanding action. The DCMS met with Brent Council last year, but has so far ignored thousands of complaints made by us.

And tomorrow, the cross-party Parliamentary Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport is holding its enquiry into national library closures: Tuesday 7 February, 10.30am, Palace of Westminster, Committee Room 15 (it’ll be packed so get there early)

Over 130 submissions were made by all sorts of groups and people. It makes for very interesting reading.

You can find our 3 submissions at pgs 133, 366 and 544 as well as one from Barry Gardiner MP (pg. 583) and the inevitable defence from Brent Council (pg. 608). You can read them all here.

Labour leader’s plan to save libraries, just not in Brent

Dan Jarvis is the shadow arts minister, he is Labour leader Ed Miliband’s libraries’ man.

This week, he told the Guardian how important libraries are, and how he plans to save them.

The benefit of libraries to communities is harder to measure, but I’ve seen it with my own eyes, in libraries large and small, from Barnsley to Bermondsey.

Does this government see it? Libraries minister Ed Vaizey‘s stock line has been: “I don’t run library services. Local authorities do.” He has a point: libraries are run by democratically elected local governments, and they take the lead. But that’s no excuse for doing nothing. It may not be Vaizey’s job to micro-manage every library in the country – but it is his job to be their champion. And that is what he is failing to do.

Blaming the government for allowing them to close, he is silent on the fact that in Brent, it is his own party that has been fighting for the right to close libraries.

And as Boyd Tonkin pointed out yesterday:

the myopic idiocy of these false economies cuts straight across party lines

As we wait for Jeremy Hunt to get up off his behind and do his job, is their any politician who is willing to walk the walk??

 

Campaign will go on – despite Supreme Court setback

Tara Brady writes in the Kilburn Times

Campaigners leading the fight to save Brent’s closed libraries are not giving up hope and have vowed to carry on. The news library supporters had been dreading was announced today – that the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court, will not hear their case.

banners hung outside Preston Library read: "Give us back our library. The fight goes on" and "This is your world. Shape it, or someone else will"

 

Margaret Bailey, who helped to take the fight to the High Court and the Appeal Court, said: “Obviously the decision is disappointing, and worrying that judges are able to make decisions that allow for the disregard of laws that are meant to protect people simply so that councils can make cuts. What next? Ignore the Equalities Act, the Human Rights Act because they may be too expensive to enforce?”

Samantha Warrington, Preston Library supporter, believes there should be a public inquiry. She said: “We have always been pursuing other routes. Now the legal avenue has closed we hope there will be a public inquiry and that Brent will consider alternatives in a way Camden has done it so positively.”

Read whole article here.

Council tells residents to use libraries in another borough

Ann John remains silent over her clearly false claim we all live near a library. That was before, Ann, not now.

It gets worse, having privately apologised to Cllr. Lorber after he challenged the claim, anonymous spokespeople are now telling us that we do live near a library, even if it belongs to Harrow!

The Brent Council spokeswoman said it was “nonsense” that the council has been misleading anyone.
She said: “It is true that everyone living in the borough is no more than a mile and a half from a library, either in Brent or a neighbouring borough, and many residents choose to use a library in another borough. This was clearly explained in the proposals.’’

(London24.com)

Brent has a legal responsibility to provide a library service for people who live and work in borough. Closing down libraries, and then telling us to go elsewhere is unacceptable and unlawful.

TODAY: Special Delivery for Jeremy Hunt

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At 10 am, we went to the DCMS in central london to present 12,000 signatures and hundreds of letters to the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt.  400 were by kids alone. We demand he fulfil his responsibility to.investigate whether Brent’s new library service is “comprehensive and efficient” (as it should be under Museums.and Libraries Act 1964).
He met the council in June, but has he heard our side? Nope. The sheer volume of complaints to him should persuade him to do so.