At the BCR CP Forum on 19th July, held at Bishopston Library, we heard about the cuts being forced on local services by Bristol City Council – due in turn to their cuts in funding from central government. We heard about funding being withdrawn for daytime social care, public toilets, school crossing patrols and local community projects. But, not surprisingly considering the venue, the potential impact on branch libraries was one of the areas of most concern.
The library service has been told to make cuts of 30% of its annual budget. They are proposing to do this by withdrawing funding for 17 of the 26 branch libraries, while boosting funds for the central library. In the current BCC consultation (available online at www.bristol.gov.uk/yourneighbourhood), they have presented a very limited choice of options.
In all three options offered, Redland Library would have its funding withdrawn – so no choice there!
In two out of three options, Bishopston Library would remain open, though all remaining local libraries would have their hours reduced, less choice of books and fewer children’s activities. The way the options are presented, the votes of those wishing to keep Bishopston Library open would be split between two of the options.
It seems the council had produced an internal report comparing different ways of meeting their statutory obligation to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service. This looked at options such as running the service as a mutual, non-profit organisation, raising funds through a trust, or increasing community involvement. However, none of these options have been included in the consultation.
At the Forum, it was suggested that the best way to complete the consultation was NOT to select one of the three options as presented (it is not necessary to do so in order to submit the form). But instead, write NONE OF THE ABOVE in the following comment box, then go on to say which libraries you use, why you believe it is important for the community, and any comments you have on alternative ways to support the library service.
If you would like to join with others who wish to support our libraries, contact one or more of the following:
Friends of Bishopston Library – Facebook: @bishopstonlibrary
Love Bristol Libraries – Facebook: @LoveBristolLib