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Library Campaigners Take The Message To Downing Street

April 9th 2014

Cat Hodgetts

Library campaigner Cat Hodgetts in front of Downing Street

SLL campaigners

Library campaigners

On Tuesday, 8th April a bus load of campaigners set off from locations around Lincolnshire to visit Parliament and the Prime Minister. Their aim was to talk to MPs about the crisis affecting the library service in Lincolnshire. The trip was organised by Lesley Hough.

In London, the first stop was the House of Commons. In the Peel Room the campaigners met with a number of MPs and their researchers, who listened to their concerns. MP Andy Sawford is Labour's Shadow Local Government Minister, and he addressed the SLL campaigners and listened to what they had to say.

Andy Sawford's counterpart, the Local Government Minister Eric Pickles, was notable for his absence. This should come as no surprise. In 2012 the minister dismissed library campaigners as "a bunch of luvvies".

Helen Goodman, Labour's Shadow Media Minister, also spoke to SLL campaigners.

"Helen Goodman was extremely positive about libraries and their uses in rural areas," Louth Councillor David Hall said.

Other MPs who took the time to discuss Lincolnshire's libraries included Lyn Brown, Labour's Shadow Fire and Communities Minister, and John Hayes, the MP for the Deepings.

"I was dismayed, but not surprised, that no Conservative or LibDem MPs cared enough about the nation's literacy to talk to us," David Hall said.

Tip of The Iceberg

After talking with MPs, six campaigners went to Downing Street to present the Prime Minister with a book, Tip Of The Iceberg. This book contains the 900 comments made by some of the 3000 people who signed the online petition (leaving a comment was optional). They represent a small fraction of the 23,000 people who signed petitions opposing the library cuts in Lincolnshire.

Sadly Prime Minister David Cameron was not available to meet the campaigners in person.

"We handed over the book "Tip Of The Iceberg" to the very nice security/door keeper," Simon Draper said. "It was a great day, and very exiting to visit both the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street."

Simon Draper is leading the judicial review into Lincolnshire County Council's decision to slash library services by 1.73 million. LCC's decision involves laying off staff, cutting opening hours, cutting 167 mobile library stops, and either closing 30 static libraries or replacing them with volunteer-run "Community Hubs".



 


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