Saturday, 10 December 2011

SOLD - Old Marylebone Town Hall - SOLD

Contracts have now been signed for the lease of the Old Marylebone Town Hall for at least the next 35-75 years.

Although the leasee has not been publicly announced, all Westminster City Council Services have one year to vacate the building with the exception of the Westminster Registrars.

Under new its occupation the intention is for the building to retain the registrars for weddings and its other services whilst the rest of the building would be renovated and likely become a hotel.

The lease became an option when the council valued the work necessary to renovate the old-town hall and library annex and make both buildings DDA compliant. It's been known for some time that both buildings were structurally rusting iron girders with a fast eroding facade. Terms of the lease would place certain duties on the contracted party to execute repairs to the building.

So what will happen to Marylebone Library?

Well right now it's unclear. The council has promised that it's intention is to maintain a library service in the Marylebone area but groups such as the Marylebone society are sceptical since the council had previously promised that it's intention was to repair both building and return the Marylebone Library to its original building.

To those of you concerned about anything we've said so far, you can contact Councillor Harvey Marshall who is the ward councillor for Marylebone High Street by clicking this link or Councillor Coline Barrow who is the current Leader of the council.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Charing Cross Library Too Expensive to Axe

So it's both good news and bad news.

Since the installation of the new self-service kiosks that have been slowly replacing staff members in Libraries across westminster, the council has Incurred an overspend of £200k. In a bid to cover this one off debt, the heads of WCC planned to close Charing cross library and Westminster music library in Victoria street and move some of the services and staff from both locations onto one floor of the Westminster Reference Library building. Funds would be generated from the selling of the Charing Cross Library building and a major reduction of staff members.

This was to be an immense project which would mean major building works on all sites to make Charing Cross commercially sellable and allow Westminster Reference library to facilitate some lending services.

Building works on Charing Cross were necessary to comply with certain rules that restricted the use of the building to educational purposes only and therefore reduced its commercial appeal. All building works had to be completed either before or after the Olympics however the financial department has now determined that the project is too expensive to pursue within the next four years and the building will continue to provide a full service as they are now.

So where's the bad news? Well Westminster libraries still has to find a saving of £40k this financial year (just under the value of a bonus for a councillor or a senior execs working for Westminster) and another £160k in 2012/13 (which we fear could mean the closure of another library).

It's important to note that this is a one-off overspend and that any permanent measures to resolve this debt would be disproportionate, unnecessary and excessive so we'll be keeping an eye out for how this develops.

Watch this space for updates.

Tri-borough is a stepping stone to privatisation

Unfortunately, in spite of an overwhelming response from staff and readers, thousands of signatures collected and lots more positive action, WCC remained adamant in their positioning and acted against the will of its people in deciding to close St. James's Library. Nevertheless, we thank you all wholeheartedly for your support. It is more valuable and useful than we can express with words, it keeps us going.

It’s not all doom and gloom for our public services! On Wednesday 30th, 20.000 London public sector workers marched to parliament to protect their pensions. According to the Guardian, This was the biggest public sector strike action in 30 years, and it’s not even counting the vast amounts who attended picket lines or refused to go to work on the day.

With around 2million public sector workers on strike and over 50,000 union members, students, parents and patients and more on the London March alone; as a single national action this has been a great success.

Despite comments from David Cameron that this was a 'damp squib', every poll shows public support for the action well in excess of 60%, with some polls showing 80% of the public trusting the public sector over Mr Cameron.

Many managers in Westminster have been supportive of the action and more and more people are getting involved in the protection of public services. These are good times of cooperation and collaboration. Now it’s especially important that we remain well informed and in close communication.

Below you will find some information on what is really going on in Westminster


As you know, WCC is currently merging some of its services with the boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham. The purpose behind this is of course to cut costs. Last month a tri-borough management team for libraries was recruited, and by April 2012 restructuring will reach frontline staff (WCC libraries will lose 2 more full-time Library positions).

This project was hailed by the BBC and The Guardian as the Salvation for libraries with the promise that no libraries will be closed due to its implementation. As these articles were being written Westminster was quickly making moves to close St James's Library whilst planning the axing of CHX library and many of it's staff members and services.

There are some positive assets to Tri-borough: hopefully, using the same system will facilitate communication between services across the boroughs, as well as saving on stock and equipment contracts. Further there will be some savings due to the reduction of upper management positions and as the 7th phase of redundancies in Westminster since 2008, this is the first time senior managers will have to face the guillotine before frontline staff.

Unfortunately, it would seem that Tri-borough has actually turned out to be more expensive than the previous setup. We suspect that this is not unexpected. Some staff members have been deployed from their usual jobs to dedicate themselves exclusively to writing “casual” reports on stock suppliers and consortia whilst various libraries have been visited by surveyors without much warning or explanation.

The head of Tri-borough Libraries David Ruse and the Tri-borough team have been providing conflicting information on the issue of “outsourcing” the combine services to a private company, trust or charitable group. Mr Ruse and WCC heads are very careful to make no clear statements sometimes saying outsourcing is unlikely in the near future whilst the project plows forward with regular reports from the tri-borough forum reinstating that they are enroute to this ultimate objective.

All these mysterious moves lead us to believe that WCC are looking to make Council services attractive to private companies. There are various companies interested in taking over the running of the Council, such as LSSI, Cavita and  Laing: Savings on staff, plus harmonization of stock and contracts make us very attractive to these corporations.

Privatisation will result in libraries running for profit instead of as community services. So we would be paying for them from our taxes, but also as service users, for example, by being charged to become library members.

We are as keen as you are to ensure our services remain public, and endeavour to keep you informed of the latest developments. So please do let us know your thoughts on this, and feel free to pass this on to your friends and colleagues.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Dossier of Hypocrisy - by Unite

The Unite union have compiled a “dossier of hypocrisy” that shows how long Cabinet ministers would have to work on the MPs pension scheme to get what local government workers can expect to receive.

George Osborne would only have to work 1 ½ years to earn a typical LGPS pension of £5,600/year.

A typical local government worker would have to work 124 years to get a pension equal to what Communities & Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles would receive if he retired in 2015.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has a pension almost 10 times higher than the average health worker.

A typical public sector worker would have to work 3 lifetimes to earn Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude’s pension & 2 lifetimes to earn Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander’s pension

These are the entitlements for Ministers in a Government that has the audacity to say [public sector] pensions are gold plated!

Why We Strike

According to the Chancellor, The Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) is no longer sustainable due to people living 10 years longer than they did 40 years ago, and that the greedy working class members of gold plated pension schemes need to accept this and the coalition changes to the LGPS.

These changes include increasing the pension age from 65 to 68, increasing member contributions to the scheme while decreasing employer contributions although members will be claiming less than they do now.

So what defence do public sector workers have to this?

1. The LGPS has a positive cash flow, with income from investments and contributions exceeding expenditure on benefits by £4-5billion every year.

2.members contribute an average of 6.6% to the scheme with higher earners paying proportionately more

3.the average employer contribution rate for current service is 12.2%. In the private sector the comparable employer contribution average is 15%

4.the chancellor intends to raise 1Bn from LGPS scheme members by making employees pay an increased average of 9.6% for future service while the employer pays 9%.

5. In April 2008, reformed schemes were launched which reduced the cost to employers year on year and increased the average member contribution from 5.8% to 6.6% to compensate for people living longer.

6. Further increases announced by the chancellor will not increase funding to the scheme but will operate as a tax on pension saving. 3.8bn will be be used to help pay off the money used to bail out the banks.

7. 7000 employers participate in the 101 LGPS including private companies and charities. 75% of local government employees, more than 4 million people are members of the scheme.

8. The LGPS fund currently holds more than £150billion in investments and assets, enough to pay benefits for over 20 years

9. The average pension payment from the LGPS is around £4,200 a year but only £2,870 per year for women due to lower income.

10. The chancellor wants employees to work to 68 instead of 65 before pension claims can be made. This will mean teachers, nurses, library staff will not be able to retire before this regardless of the pressures posed in workforces with ever decreasing staff and ever increasing pressure.

11. Pay will increase inline with the consumer price index rather than the retail price index which represents the true cost of living. As pay remains low against inflation, so will pension contributions from both the employee and the employer.

Unison, GMB, unite, Napo, Ucatt, Aspect, FBU, NIPSA, NUJ, NUT, and the coalition of resistance as well as more than 60% of the public are just a few groups who oppose these changes and support strike action on the 30th November 2011.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Tri-borough: The Bold New Plan: Staff Cuts... Again

The Tri-borough project which aims to combine various services across the three local authorities Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster Council was hailed as the great saviour of libraries and other public services in the age of austerity. According to both the BBC and the Guardian, not a single library would close due to the groundbreaking savings that would come from this bold new project.

So now that St James' library has closed, and Hammersmith and Fulham has relinquished responsibility of two libraries we all sit with baited breaths waiting to see how much more Tri-borough can save. The plan is that across all three boroughs, the Tri-borough project will save £33M per year across all affected services and emphasis has been put on savings being generated by combining purchase contracts and sharing services.

In Libraries the expected saving is £1.1M per year across the three local authorities since the service is already very inexpensive, most of those savings will come from further reducing staff numbers across all three boroughs... bold?... Yes... New... No!

Every Library across all three boroughs that now has a self-service machine has seen a reduction of staff due to the introduction of those machines to the detriment of the level of service Westminster prides itself on. As the project announces progression towards its first £1M saving and in Libraries this would be through staff reductions, one can only hope that the architects of these great new remember the service's obligation to the public above financial conveniences and profit.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Eric Pickles! Save our libraries, not our bins!

Courtesy of Digital Democracy a discussion ensues which yet again challenges the Government's position with regards to the economic viability of maintaining public services.

The arguement has always been that the money is simply not there, yet 'Suddenly the government has found £250,000,000.00 to spend on weekly bin collections while our services are cut!' Digital Democracy suggests as a Solution that the executive should Instead save our jobs, libraries, universities, soldiers + sailors + pilots, leisure centres, social services, coastguards, Policemen, youth centres, lollipop people, pothole repairs and road gritting.

Join the debate

Thursday, 4 August 2011




4th August 2011


Westminster Council has spent almost £2.5 million on 10 ‘temporary’ staff, nine of whom who have worked for the Council for over two years, according to Council figures revealed by Labour Councillors. Of the 10 ‘temporary’ staff, only two, an Environmental Health Officer and a Deputy Services Manager in the Family Recovery Team, could be said to be working in front-line services.

In addition, the Council employs 34 temporary staff earning over £300 a day.

Earlier this week, Labour Councillors revealed that Westminster Council is spending £186,000 a year on a 6-person 'Campaigns Team', while at the same time they say that they do not have enough money to afford £4,100 a year to give 50 partially sighted people free access to the RNIB Talking Book. The 50 partially sighted residents had their free access to the RNIB Talking Book axed as part of the Council’s cuts.

And in June, Westminster Council agreed to spend £960,000 on five ‘Transformation and Change Management’ consultants from PriceWaterhouseCoopers for the next 12 months, with the option to extend the contract for a further six months bringing the total cost to Westminster Council Tax payers to £1,440,000. Labour Councillors attacked this decision at a time when the Council is making £60 million of cuts, half of which are to front line services, including the axing of services to 3,000 elderly residents with moderate care needs, the closure of the St James’s Library in Victoria and the cutting of over 70 weekend street sweepers in the north of Westminster.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group, said;

“How can Westminster Conservatives justify spending £2.5 million on 10 so-called ‘temporary’ staff at a cost of up to £745 a day when they are axing front line services to the most vulnerable residents? Westminster Conservatives are guilty of wasting the Council Tax payments of hard-working Westminster residents. This is an absolute disgrace and a national scandal. Why don’t Eric Pickles and Grant Shapps condemn this blatant misuse of public money?”


Saturday, 25 June 2011

Could this be the future of Mayfair Library?

For many years Westminster Council has been attempting to close one of our small but much loved Libraries in the hope of achieving savings and reducing its liabilities. If not for our determined opposition to its closure, there would be no Library in the building that is currently being leased to Westminster at absolutely no charge.

We prepared ourselves to renew our fight for OUR taxes to be spent on OUR libraries upon the government's announcement that it would be making major cuts to public services with the aim of reducing the national deficit. But as the months passed, it seemed that all the preparation to fight for Mayfair was for nought as our councillors assured us that the library would not be closing this year and that exciting changes would be coming to the library service in Westminster and beyond.

Still wary of Mayfair's closure, we decided to lend our hand to any activities that would preserve our service and its wonderful staff members. It was at this point that our Councillors and Westminster Management suggested the idea of residents assisting with the rounding up of donations and volunteers to save Mayfair Library, and only Mayfair.

All the while St. James's Library which is far busier, has more customers, and is in a location with no immediate alternative was announced to be closing by mid-august. We found it strange that they would close such a busy well used library while assuring us that Mayfair would remain open.

It was at this point we realised that they were scared of us. Not all residents, but the active ones for sure.

But then we discovered what was being proposed in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (who Westminster Libraries have been meeting with on a regular basis as part of the new Tri-borough project).

'The council intends that Barons Court Library will be run as a volunteer-led service and the  Sands End Library will be relocating to a new purpose built setting still within the Sands End ward at Hurlingham & Chelsea School on Peterborough Road.'

It would seem that they've been grooming us to take over the responsibilities that we've elected them and paid them very well to manage and they didn't have the guts to tell us to our faces.

CEO's Wages equivalent to 105,381 meals on wheels or 7 school teachers

Westminster has introduced a wonderful new gadget on they're internal employee intranet-site that allows staff and managers to calculate how much their spending and savings amount to for local residents and services.

You entered a total of £ 268,723.00 (Mike More's Annual income not including benefits). In Westminster, this is the equivalent of:

390 people’s council tax (based on Band D)
105,381 meals on wheels (£2.55 is the subsidised charge for a two course hot meal)
removal of waste from 2,465 households (it costs the council on average £109 per household per year to dispose of waste
including street litter and dumped rubbish)
7 social worker(s) (based on recent vacancies and represents band 3 step 4 on Westminster’s pay scale)
7 teacher(s) (based on scale point 6 for classroom teachers working in inner London)


You might remember in a previous post we told you of the Tory councillor who said £3M was not a significant enough saving to justify a 5% reduction in wages for those earning over £100k - If you not confused yet just wait for 'Harmonisation'.

Thursday, 26 May 2011


So the 26th March 2011 was a day that showed politicians that apathy was a sign of its own failure to engage the public rather than an indication that the executive had a free hand and could do whatever it wants without recourse. Since then, outwardly it would seem that all is now quiet on the libraries front with regards to cuts and closures...  unfortunately this would be a flawed perception.

With a planned 40% reduction in Westminster's Library stock budget, a reduction in staffing hours by 14 full time staff members for September, the closure of St James' and Charing cross library as well as the Sale of the Old Marylebone town hall and Old Marylebone Library plus, the ongoing Tri-borough project; as well as more planned cuts for 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. It would appear that both local and national politicians have merely been reminded to keep up the spin while those in the know keep up the fight.

It is no wonder Labour councillor Paul Dimoldenberg has called for an inquiry into Westminster Council’s publicity claims that it is ‘maintaining library services’.

To add insult to injury, the cuts continue at a time when the council has announced that it will be appointing a new Strategic Director for Adult Services to work full-time on the Tri-borough project that is still struggling to find savings, and a new role for a Strategic Director for Regeneration, Housing and 'Worklessness' which will also carry a 'significant salary' by the council's own admission.

So what is a significant salary? The director of ‘regeneration, housing and worklessness’ will be on a pay scale of £138,473 – 187,473, and the director of adult social care will be on £260,000, which combined is well above the cost of running St. James's Library (£357K including staffing, rent, book stock budget, etc). these Salaries have been agreed despite local government minister Eric Pickles urging local authorities to avoid paying salaries higher than that of the prime minister (£142,500).

With the council already axing 350 jobs and 500 more redundancies on the way, it's not surprising critics have hailed it as 'massively offensive' that two members of staff can be paid more than the cost to run St. James' library which is due to close by the end of august this year. 
One employee at Westminster city council has said ' beggars belief that they are suggesting such salaries while we are in the process of experiencing drastic cuts to essential public services, including mass redundancies here at WCC....Westminster is cutting Sure Start, community and youth services, social care, meals-on-wheels, community engagement, libraries, domestic violence, and other services.  There are further savage and unnecessary, ideologically-driven cuts to come.... ' 

others have said  '.... the director of regeneration, housing and worklessness will be paid to oversee the social cleansing of our community, as the cap on housing benefit forces thousands out of their homes.  The director of adult care – who, on over a quarter of a million a year, will be the highest paid public sector worker in the country – will be implementing brutal, swingeing cuts that will see social services withdrawn from thousands of vulnerable residents with genuine support needs beyond their control....'
If this wasn't enough, it has been announced that Westminster council has paid £600,000 in compensation to a firm it axed as it's parking contractor after only a few days. When awarding the biggest parking contract in the UK, Westminster had failed to follow it's own rules by giving the contract to a company £9 million more expensive than it's current contractors. The punchline here is that the council considers this spend a 'saving' rather than evidence of incompetence which is consistent with it's track record thus far.

“Westminster Council spends over £3 million a year on its press and publicity department and the Council has demonstrated beyond doubt that this money would be much better spent on library books and librarians than misleading Council spin to cover the extent and depth of the Conservative cuts”

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Petition to Save St James's Library

The council has decided that the closure of St. James's Library will save £357,000 of Westminster's £84M cuts target. This 'saving' is minute when weighed against the detrimental social effect the closure will have on Westminster's residents, workers and visitors. At the same time, the council aims to employ two new members of staff who will both be paid more than the Prime Minister from money saved as part of such cuts.

Each year St James's Library makes approximately 70 staff visits to schools and nurseries as well as accommodating 170 school and nursery visits to the library itself. St James's Library is a small but busy library that services, schools, nurseries, residents, students, workers, tourists and the vulnerable throughout London and Westminster.

This library must be protected for all.

Please sign the Petition at the above address and share the link with as many friends, family and associates as possible. You will need an email address and to register a Westminster address and postcode to verify that you live, work or study in Westminster.

If you study at any of the following institutions here are the addresses:

University of Westminster
309 Regent Street
London W1B 2UW

The School of Oriental & African Studies (SOAS)
hornhaugh Street
Russell Square
London WC1H 0XG

University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

Also here is a list of libraries with their addresses if you work or study there:
Westminster Libraries

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

TriBorough project under-way

The Triborough project marches on as the Heads of Westminster, Kennsington & Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham meet with local Unisons to discuss ways to move forward. So far the project aims to save £1.6M between all three boroughs in the first year and £35M in the next.

The claim is that these savings will prodominantly come from a reduction in senior staff members i.e. We will only need one Chief Executive Officer earning more than the Prime Minister rather than three. This may also be the case for some department heads and local managers, although the aim is to maintain some local autonony.

less publicised but possibly offering the bulk of savings is the amalgamation of contracts between all three boroughs for stock, cleaning, etc, and the harmonising of staff wages across all three authorities.

In a recent Triborough report, the update on libraries is as follows:

'The Proposals include a proposition for a combined three borough library service, whilst retaining borough branding on buildings. This will help reduce management costs and overheads.
A future option is floated – that at a future date and subject to further option appraisal, this combined library service is transferred to external management – perhaps through a new charitable trust – to provide enhanced opportunities for library users and other residents to be involved and to add volunteering effort.'

Further evidence of the direction for this project can be seen by the actions of The Director of Libraries, David Ruse  who has made visits to Westminster Library and a Kensington and Chelsea school to consider the possibility of merging the two in a similar style to the new Pimlico Academy.

It's no wonder "Only 29% of residents say they feel informed about how the council plans to deal with reductions in their budget" in a triborough survey that questioned 500 resisdents across all three boroughs.

Apparently "Two thirds of residents (63%) say they trust the council to make the right spending decisions." which is a shame considering only "Half of residents (50%) have heard of current discussions on possible sharing of services between the authorities, but only a small proportion (one in ten) say they know a great deal or fair amount about this"

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Photographs of the Protests outside Westminsters' City Hall and Westminsters'

Protest and Demonstration against Tory cuts outside Westminster's City Hall building 

Protest and Demonstration against Tory cuts outside Westminster's Council House 

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Library Closures Row in High Court and Support Grows for Libraries Rebellion

These two stories are well worth a read

Library Closures Row in High Court

Support Grows for Libraries Rebellion

When St James's Library closes in September, we all suffer

Its obvious to anyone who has spent any amount of time in a library in recent years that the building is not merely a storage space for books. For some, its sanctuary, others an invaluable tool but most go with the intention of seeing a friendly human face that can help then with whatever problem they may have. Only those who are wealthy enough and self-serving enough could detach themselves from passions and needs of these people for unnecessary and short-term gain.

Those who will be most negatively affected by the closure of St. James' Library live in and around the Old Pye Estate, particularly the elderly who have mobility issues. Also the local schools will have to seek alternative support, in 2009/10 there were 166 class and nursery visits with staff attending schools and nurseries on 69 occasions. On top of this, a high proportion of students from Westminster City School are key library users who will certainly feel the effects of the closure.

Please read:

"We had Dean in again today. He's a young man with cerebral palsy. Mark, our manager, does all he can to help Dean. He helps Dean out with daily essentials and attempts to find him care and housing help. Dean can be quite demanding. 

We had some more shouters in this week. Customers who, for one reason or another, take against the staff and other customers and become noisy and disruptive. We've had to ask some to leave. Others have brought in all their worldly goods. Others have been so unhygienic as to attract complaints from other customers. We've asked them to leave, clean up, find somewhere for their luggage, then they're welcome to return.
We've had people in who've obviously been mentally unwell, who have asked for help. For things both relevant and irrelevant. And they've been helped. Provided with information. Advice where possible. And then gone on their way."

"We've had customers who we've suspected of being drunk, or high. We've dealt with them. Humoured them, mostly. Seen that they've got everything they needed.

Most of the customers have been great. As usual. friendly, engaged, interested, talkative. We've spoken to them about their reading habits, about their library use and any concerns, general chit-chat and small talk and some, who have forged friendships with the staff, have stayed and talked a little longer.
Some customers, without the debility of mental illness or addiction, can prove a handful nonetheless. These customers are recognised and persevered with. All staff know the signs and spot the recidivists. We attempt to engage with them. We attempt to make their visits fruitful and enjoyable. We pursue their complaints. Log their requests. Apologise for their dissatisfaction.
Soon, at St James's we won't be doing that any more. I think we'll be missed. By all sorts."

"We have quite a few peers in. The occasional MP. We service the House of Commons library. Lots of lobbyists. Members of the Royal Household. Scotland Yard. We get quite a few soldiers on their way to and from war-zones. We get their wives in with their kids. We get office workers, bureaucrats, shop assistants, traffic wardens, street sweepers, caterers, barristers, flight attendants, pensioners, bankers, directors, schoolkids, carers... American, Poles, Italians, Japanese, French, Russians, Somalis, Irish, Ethiopians, Spanish...

We'll miss them, too."

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Director for Libraries Earns £103,689 plus private health insurance of £2,368 and car allowance of £2,808

Unfortunately this post is quite a large one but it will be more than worth the space.

On the 2nd March 2011 Marylebone Library closed early at 6pm on the advice of the security team and police blockage who were there to protect councillors who were to attend the cabinet meeting in the same building from the angry mob of mothers and toddlers who waited outside in the cold. 

During the meeting one of the labour minority suggested that all staff earning over £100,000 should take a pay-cut of 5% if only to show that the distribution of austerity measures were not completely targeting the poor. He was promptly dismissed by one of the Conservative councillors who claimed that the £3M saving that this would generate was not worth bothering with, the irony being that Library assistants working Sundays will be expected to take a reduction in wages to save £40k. 

The Old Marylebone Town Hall and Marylebone Library, which is currently up for sale, was host to a cabinet of conservative councillors who denied making cuts to services in areas where staff had received letters that they were vulnerable to redundancy. 

Consistently the Labour party was blamed for the GLOBAL BANKING CRISIS (although it was accepted that the banks were partially to blame) despite, WCC officers investing £17.5M into Icelandic banks when most knew it was a bad idea, £4M on temp staff one of whom has earned £745 per day for the last 6 years and with two senior officers earning more than the Prime Minister and 25 earning over £100,000 plus health plans, plus bonuses, plus car and accommodation allowance.

The Director for Libraries, David Ruse is announced to be earning £103,689 in 2009/2010, plus private health insurance of £2,368 and car allowance of £2,808 and with the a bonus of £35,000 and further entitlement for an annual increase in salary. The document below gives details of earning for the council's senior officers, please follow the link below.


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Marylebone Library to close today at 6.30pm due to protest outside the Council House

At 6.30pm on Wednesday 2nd February, Marylebone Library and Information Services will close early due to 'unforseen circumstances'.

The unforseen circumstance in question happens to be the monthly cabinet meeting where long standing conservative councillors for Westminster decide how best to spend the tax payer's money and on what services.

On the 21st February 2011, the councillors met on the 17th Floor of the City Hall to approve the proposed cuts to services and deflect attention away from their own culpability and those of the bankers in causing the financial situation we're now in. 

In another bid to convince the cabinet that spending cuts which disproportionately and adversely affect the poor and the vulnarable are not an inevitability and that other options should be considered. Especially since...

“We are taking council spending back to the level generally in terms of grants, that it was in 2007. I see no reason at all why they should not continue with the very well funded network of libraries.”
David Cameron 9/2/11

We are therefore urging everyone to join our lobby of the Cabinet on Wednesday the 2nd March 2011 at 6pm outside Marylebone's Council House building, 109-117 Marylebone road, London NW1 5PS, so that Councillors are made aware of the strong feelings against these closures.

Monday, 28 February 2011

Financial Context - This financial crisis is 'Made in Westminster'

·         Westminster City Council is making £60 million of cuts over the next 2 years, 75% of which will hit front-line services.

·         Long before the Conservative-led Government demanded £60 million of cuts over the next two years, Westminster’s Conservatives had presided over a massive fall in the Council’s income which had forced them to raid the Council’s financial reserves in order to keep the Council solvent.

·         The Council’s income from Parking fines dropped by nearly £18 million, from £38.2 million in 2006/7 to £20.5 million in 2009/10, while the Council’s income from interest payments dropped by nearly £14 million from a high of £25.2 million in 2008/09 to just £11.8 million a year later.
  • Westminster City Council’s financial reserves have plummeted by more than £60 million, from £72 million in June 2008 to £11.4 million in November 2010, according to a report to the Council’s Audit and Performance Committee.
  • The Council has spent £3,973,952 on 12 temporary staff, all of whom cost the Council over £500 a day. The highest paid temporary staff member, a Temporary Head of Regeneration and Partnerships, costs the Council £745 a day and has cost £453,446 for the 608 days the person has worked for the Council. A Senior Project Manager, costing £600 a day, has cost the Council £852,600 for 1,421 days’ work, while a Senior Business Analyst, costing £521 a day, has cost the Council £827,400 for 1,588 days’ work. Overall, the Council spends £10.5 million a year on temporary staff.
·         Meanwhile, the ‘flagship’ Council invested nearly £17 million in now-failed Icelandic Banks, of which over £11 million has yet to be recovered.
  • 300 hundred Council jobs have been axed over the past two years in order to try to balance the books, but now the Council is having to sack a further 450 staff to make the £52 million cuts demanded by the Government. The Council estimates that redundancy costs for 2011/12 and 2012/13 “will be in the range £12-18m”. However, there is insufficient money in Council’s reserves to cover these redundancy costs.
·         Two Westminster City Council Officers earn more than the Prime Minister, according to figures released by the Council, with a further 20 senior Council officers earning over £100,000 a year.
·                     In the Budget report to Councillors, Council officers remind the Conservatives that that they ignored successive Finance Officers’ advice for a Council Tax “increase of 2.9% in 2005/06, 5% in 2006/07, 5% in 2007/08 and 2% in 2008/09.” If the Council had followed the advice of successive Directors of Finance (and Labour Councillors), the Council would have £13 million more income this year, which would have cost the average Band D Council payer just 80p a week extra.
  • The current Director of Finance, Barbara Moorhouse says in the report that she “considers that the Council should plan for an increase in Council Tax in 2012/13 by a minimum of 3.5%” and “considers that given Westminster’s tax base a case may be made for a higher level”.

Sure Start - Services at Westminster’s Sure Start Children’s Centres which are threatened as part of the £5.4 million cuts in services to Children and Young people over the next two years, including the loss of at least 12 early years staff. The £5.4 million of cuts from services to Children and Young People over the next two years, include cuts of nearly £1.7 million to ‘early intervention’ services.

Labour Councillors have received information from Council Officers that;

“The eight Children Centre managers employed by WCC have had a letter stating that they are vulnerable to redundancy.  There will be three new posts of locality children centre managers.  The majority of other posts are provided through partner agencies via a Service Level Agreement or contract.  These contracts are due to end on 31 March and I understand that many providers have issued notices of vulnerability to redundancy until the funding is clear for 2011/12. “

Play - The Council’s plans will also see working parents having to pay the full price for places at Play centres and then claim 70% of the cost through the Working Tax Credit. The Council says that “the low fees charged to parents have resulted in a significantly low local take-up of working tax credit”

The Council’s cuts involve

·         A cut of £275,000 in 2011/12
  • A cut to the contract with Westminster Society for People with Learning Difficulties (WSPLD) in 2011/12 which the Council says “are expected to offer further cost reductions towards the savings agreed by Cabinet on 17 December”
  • A cut to the Lisson Green Play contract which ends in March 2012 which the Council says  “will be re-let with a view to seeking further savings”
  • An increase in costs for places which the Council says will mean “increased fee income of £100k per annum over a 3 year period.”
In addition, the number of staff will be halved. The Council says;

“Currently Westminster Play Service employs 80 staff in 28 full-time equivalent (FTE) posts……. under the proposed staffing arrangements the establishment of full time employed staff will reduce to 14 FTE posts.”

  • Westminster City Council is planning a 545% increase in charges for holiday play schemes and a 360% increase in the cost of after school play provision. The Council plans to restrict subsidised holiday and after school play places to children who are “at risk of significant harm and subject to Child Protection plans and children with significant needs”. All other parents will be subject to:

    an increase in charges for children’s holiday play schemes from £22 a week to £120 a week – an increase of 545%
  • an increase in charges for children’s after school play provision from £8.30p a week to £30 a week – an increase of 360%

The Council is proposing over £8 million in cuts over the next two years, including a cut of over £4.6 million in day care for vulnerable adults, a £2.2 million cut in assessment and care services for vulnerable adults and a £1.4 million cut in home care for vulnerable adults.

The Council plans to raise the eligibility threshold for adult social care services to cover only people with substantial and critical levels of need under the Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) criteria. This will affect over 3,000 people in Westminster with ‘moderate’ needs. The Council is also planning to close the day service for younger adults with physical disabilities at 42 Westbourne Park Road.

Voluntary Groups

Westminster Council is cutting over £1 million from Voluntary Sector grants over the next two years, a cut of 25%. The figures show that over £630,000 of grants is being cut from the Adult and Community Services budget and £425,000 of grants cut from the Children's Services budget.

The biggest cut is £169,000 from the Arts and Recreation budget and represents a 34% cut, followed by a £94,000 cut from the Older People grants to voluntary organisations. Nearly £60,000 (39%) is being cut from the financial support given to Information and Advice agencies at a time when vulnerable residents will need more help to cope with debts and increased homelessness.

The figures obtained by Labour Councillors from Council officers reveal the following cuts;
"Reduction to Commissioning Budgets previously allocated to Voluntary Sector Grants
 Adult & Community Services – Reductions in 2011/12
Provisional reductions:
Commissioning Area
Reduction  (£)
Reduction (%)
Adult Learning
Information & Advice
Learning Disabilities
Mental Health
Older People
Physical Disabilities
Arts & Culture
Community Centres
VCS Infrastructure
(£80,000 increase)
Total 2011/12
Planned in 2012/13
24% (total reduction from 2010/11)

Children's Services

Reduction (£)
Reduction (%)
Planned in 2012/13
21% (total reduction from 2010/11)

Homeless People

Westminster City Council is planning to cut £967,000 in help to homeless people over the next two years. Over the next two years Westminster Council plans to cut £784,000 in 2011/12 and a further £183,000 in 2012/13.

Supporting People funding is a preventative measure that provides housing-related support to vulnerable people and saves money for both the Government and local councils. DCLG research has calculated that Supporting People funding saves the public purse over twice as much as it costs. In Westminster, for example, St Mungo’s operates a number of accommodation based services, including a project for teenage parents, two projects for people with complex needs with a history of rough sleeping and a number of mental health semi-independent housing schemes, which could face difficulties in the future as a result of the cuts.


Westminster Council tenants face an inflation-busting rent rise on Monday 4th April 2011 when the average rent will increase by 6.61% - £6.48p per week. This will cost the average Council tenant £337 a year extra.


  • Library closure - St James’s Library will close from September to save £357,000. The saving is from stock, staffing and other operating costs. 
  • Charing Cross Library will close and move to Westminster Reference Library to save £200,000 on reduced premises costs and staff saving
  • Reduced stock budget.  £250,000 will be saved over 4 years - this is 40% reduction over the 4 years.  There will be fewer new books and other resources, significant reduction in multiple copies.  Customers will wait longer to get their choice. Range and quality of stock is a key customer satisfaction driver. 
  • Reduce Archives, Reference and Information provision. £175,000 will be saved over 4 years.  This will mostly be from staff savings, including a number of posts already vacant, plus stock.  Some can be achieved through efficiencies, but there will also be some service reductions.
  • Reduce lending staffing by 4 posts.
 Director of Libraries, David Ruse told his staff;

 “I appreciate that the next few months are not going to be easy.  As well as the personal impact on you, customers are going to be concerned and annoyed about the changes, not just in libraries and registrars, but across council services.”

Street Sweeping and Refuse Collection

Plans to cut £4.4 million from Westminster Council’s street sweeping and refuse collection budget over the next two years will lead to dirtier streets in the West End and in residential streets. The Council’s proposals include;
  •  Removal of 26 additional summer cleansing staff - £400K
  • Street cleansing service reductions - £2,285K in 2011/12 and £915K in 2012/13
  • Reduced household waste and recycling collections - £840K
Council officers say that the impact of these cuts would be as follows;

In the West End & other predominantly commercial streets
  • The Council currently deploys 26 additional sweepers in the summer to deal with increased litter, alfresco drinking and dining etc. during May – September. This would cease.
  • A reduction in afternoon/evening cleaning
  • A reduced capacity to clean and empty litter bins
  • A diminished capacity to maintain routine services when they are disrupted by special events, demonstrations etc.
  • A diminished capacity to deliver salting and gritting services (particularly on footways) during periods of snow and ice.
In Residential Areas
  • Frequency of street sweeping reduced from current 3-5 times a week (depending on location) to once or twice a week, city-wide
  • Removal of litter bins (which are emptied by street sweepers)
  • Reduced frequency of collections of household waste in those streets that currently receive more than 2 doorstep collections per week
  •  Reduced frequency of recycling collections from mansion blocks and housing estates.
Paul Dimoldenberg
Leader of the Labour Group
Westminster City Council