Communities secretary Eric Pickles has described worries about the future of public libraries as a matter for “a bunch of luvvies”, in a exchange in Parliament.
Labour MP and author Tristram Hunt asked Pickles about the priority of library closures in a debate in the House of Commons yesterday (17th December) , asking why the government thought dustbin collections more important.
The broadcaster and historian said: “In towns and cities across England, local authorities are being forced to close museums, shut care homes and end library provision, but the Government found £250 million to empty the bins more regularly. What kind of abysmal, philistine, reactionary Government put dustbins above library books?”
Tory frontbencher Pickles responded: “The people who are putting dustbins above those things are people who care about the general service provided to the electorate. The honourable gentleman is a bit of a luvvie, so no doubt he is looking intensely at the drop in culture, but that is a matter for local decision, and he is wholly wrong.”
He added: “People should look at how an authority can get more money in by exploiting and using its cultural heritage. Frankly, he is just lining up a bunch of luvvies. He should listen a little bit more.”
Figures revealed by CIPFA last week showed that more than 200 libraries had closed in the UK in the past year, while local authorities such as Newcastle City Council have drawn up plans to close 10 out their 18 libraries.