Jarvis attacks government for ‘ignoring’ library campaigners

Shadow culture minister Dan Jarvis has spoken out about local library campaigns, criticising the government for “ignoring” their voices for two years.

In a statement, the Labour politician raised a number of specific instances where campaign groups trying to save their local library had been forced to wait more than two years for a response from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

One particular case is that of campaigners in Lewisham, who wrote to culture minister Ed Vaizey in August 2010, asking him to order an inquiry into library cuts in the area. Two years later, there has still been no response from the minister.

Jarvis said: “The government does not seem to take seriously their responsibilities for a service which thousands of hard-working communities across the country rely on, and which is a particular lifeline in these tough times for the most vulnerable in society—for job seekers, families with young children, for kids without a place to work at home, for anyone who can't afford to go online.”

He added that he did not expect an inquiry to be launched in every case, but that the system had to be more responsive, saying: “The confusion, ineffectiveness and lack of transparency we’ve seen serves neither councils nor communities.”

Meanwhile, according to the BBC, campaigners in Northamptonshire have lost their battle to keep a library at a school, after the Conservative council said they could no longer afford the running costs.

Wootton Fields Library will now be moved out of Caroline Chisholm School in September, where it has been for eight years.

Activists submitted a petition to protest the move, which Northamptonshire County Council believes will save them £1million over the next 17 years, and now say they will submit an official complaint over the lack of consultation.

In Streatham, south London, a new campaign group has formed to battle proposals that the area’s library should be moved from the historic Streatham Tate building, This is Local London reports.

The Friends of Streatham Library hope that the 120-year-old building can be renovated and improved to become more use to the community, rather than moving the facilities elsewhere.

Lambeth Council said the plans would be discussed in the autumn, with all residents consulted before any changes.