FOLLOWING the publication of the report on the future of Wakefield libraries (ie no future at all) the time has come to apportion blame for this, step forward Wakefield Council.
Following years of neglect by the council the pigeons have finally come home to roost, following is some facts concerning Wakefield Council’s attitude to the library service.
1. There has been a chronic under-funding of library services in Wakefield over an extended period of several decades.
2. Wakefield Council is 33rd of 35 authorities for the number of staff in post per 1,000 population.
3. The council’s book stock per 1,000 population is 29th of 35 authorities.
4. The council is 27th of 35 authorities on overall expenditure within library services.
5. On income, Wakefield Council is 15th on table. Source: CIPFA.
6. Many buildings have become very run down and at one point, circa 2011/12, the service was actually relying on book donations from the general public to survive as moratoriums on library book purchases were hit very badly. (Source: library users and library staff).
The council is trying to apportion blame for library closures on the failure of the community to take over the running of the libraries, this clearly will not wash, the people to blame are our elected representatives over the years who have been shining examples of profligacy and waste.
For example Wakefield Council is 15th in terms of income received. Where has this money gone?
Answer, on glamour projects designed to embellish the egos of councillors.
Libraries have been deemed a ‘soft’ target and fair game for the excusologists in charge to wash their hands of their errors.
Outwood Library is a victim of this program of vandalism, despite the sterling efforts of the staff who have performed magnificently against overwhelming odds, in a life expired building, with nil resources.
Outwood Library, despite its name, is not purely a library. This is an essential resource for the community who use the building and the IT hardware inside to access a raft of services.
Where do they go now?
The council will say 92 per cent of users are within two miles of a library. Fine, so they have to either walk or use public transport or their own vehicles
Two miles may not seem a lot, but double it, two miles there and two miles back is four miles in any man’s language.
Chairman of Supporters of Outwood Library (SOUL)