Monday, 28 February 2011

Is Westminster addicted to cuts and allergic to its residents?

As Westminster Council enters it's 7th phase of cuts, redundancies and reorganisation since 2008 (phase 5b); the director of libraries David Ruse announces his intention to close St. James Library, merge Charing Cross Library with the Westminster Reference Library, and sell Marylebone Library as well as reducing the library stock budget by 40%, and replace staff with self service machines in as many of libraries as possible and then further merging Westminster Libraries with two other local authorities as part of a Triborough project with planned cuts of another £1.6M in the next four years and yet the consultation process has been this.....

Instead of this....


Westminster's officers' over reliance on the internet, blackberry and self-service machines has led to co-operate agrophobia, which has councillors and directors hiding from the public who's money they happily spend. Despite the plethora of restructures reorganisations and redundancies, there has been no meaningful consultation with library users or other members of the public, and both the press and members of the public have been excluded from 8 out of 9 cabinet meetings in the last 8 months. 

This is completely unacceptable since the cabinet should be a key opportunity for the public to meet with their representatives and advise them on how we would like our money to be spent and on what services.
Labour Councillor Paul Dimonldenburg has said “The closure of the St James’s Library is an act of civic vandalism which would not be necessary if the Council had not spent nearly £4 million on 12 temporary staff, all of whom cost the Council over £500 a day”.  

On the 21st February at 7pm, a group of library staff customers and residents gathered outside Westminster city hall to lobby and protest the spending cuts as a Rolls Royce with a personalised T 22 plate pulled up, and the cabinet members poured into the building through the front and back entrance.

Evening Standard article 

Westminster Chronicle article

It was decided that losing £17.5M to Icelandic banks and £20M in profits for parking due to individuals choosing to obey the law, and paying senior temporary members of staff over £500 per day (one staff member earning £745 per day for the last 6 years) without an increase in council tax was unavoidable and a natural consequence of the world created by the bankers. They therefore gave their preliminary approval of all the proposed cuts and efficiencies including those mentioned above.

On Wednesday 2nd March, the cabinet will be meeting again to rubber stamp the proposals,

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

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