Tories pledge to prevent Lewisham library closures

In a radical new approach to local politics, Conservative candidate for Ladywell Ben Appleby has attempted to address a couple of relevant issues - promising to protect Lewisham libraries from closure.


As Lib Dem supporters have discovered, talk is cheap when you don't expect to achieve power, but nonetheless, it's a refreshing approach. Here's the release:

Ben Appleby, Conservative candidate in the Ladywell by-election, and the Conservative team are committed to retaining and improving libraries and other front line services. However, Labour want to close local libraries instead of taking the radical action needed to cut Town Hall waste. Crofton Park library has been earmarked for closure by Lewisham Mayor, Steve Bullock.

Libraries Minister, Ed Vaizey MP, after discussing the issue with Ben, said "I am disgusted that the first thing the Labour mayor plans to do is cut library services. No council should be cutting frontline services until it has cut its bureaucracy. I hope the people of Ladywell will get behind Ben Appleby's campaign and vote to keep libraries open“

These are difficult times for all of us, but Conservatives would have found the necessary savings elsewhere:

Efficient collection of council tax
Slashing the council’s marketing and PR budget
Immediate freeze on hiring new bureaucrats
Forensic audit and full transparency on spending
Freeze Mayor’s salary and Councillor allowances
Review all external training, junkets & expenses
Sell assets to repay debt and cut interest bills
Employ quality permanent staff directly

Lewisham Deptford Conservatives’ chairman Michael Rutherford said: “I am disgusted by the Labour mayor’s apparent prioritisation of his town hall empire at the expense of vital local services. I fully support Ben Appleby’s campaign to save the library which is well used by people for miles around.

“To support the 25% cuts to the council budget, Labour want to close 45% of Lewisham’s libraries. This means Mr. Bullock aims to make the council even more inefficient. We have proposed a package of savings that would not only save Crofton Park library, but also the four other threatened libraries.”

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sell assets to repay debt and cut interest bills.

I know....let's sell the library buildings, job done.

By the way didn't Chief Exec Barry Quirk produce a report for the last government about selling assets such as Ladywell Playtower to the community?

Ranter said...

The expression 'cheeky Tory c...ts' springs to mind.

Does anyone really believe the scale of public spending cuts being imposed by the Government can be achieved by cutting a few PR campaigns?

Mb said...

"Immediate freeze on hiring new bureaucrats" "Employ quality permanent staff directly" [Whats his definition of a bureaucrat? Thats one of those imprecise words that can be chucked around while you think of something sensible to say]
"Employ quality permanent staff directly" How many "quality staff" will be attracted to an insitution that is under attack? The two year pay freeze will obviously help that (!)

"Review all external training, junkets & expenses" Another crowd pleaser....cue trotting out a few wild examples. Cutting training for the "quality professionals" you hope to attract?

An incoherent brain dump from tory boy.

Anonymous said...

Marketing and PR is an issue with evidence of odd priorities. I've seen the council's thoughts on how to manage Black History Month in the future and they seem to be to cut the small grants that provide the nucleus around which volunteers can make events happen but keep the brochure that floods the borough every September to tell people about them.

max said...

Remarkable how he didn't consider expanding services offered at libraries so to make them financially more viable.

Anyway, he mentions debts, I wonder what's the amount of debt the Council has and how much of the budget that takes (for capital and interest).

fabhat said...

There is a follow up meeting about Crofton Pk Library - next Tuesday (19TH) at 7pm, at St Saviours...

Paddyom said...

Lets not forget who got us into this mess....

Anonymous said...

Yes, unregulated markets, over dependance on the financial sector. Labour foolishly jumped on the bandwagon, as did the states under a rebublican administration and as I'm sure the torys would have followed.

The bail out (and resulting deficit)was inevitable (wasn't it?) I've not heard a mainstreem politician suggesting that we should have let the banks collapse.

max said...

The bank bailout and the public debt are two separate accounts, I don't think that the deficit reduction plan includes the bank bailout, that's considered an activity.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that the New Labour vote winning model of spending increases for the core vote, without tax rises on swing voters, is only sustainable short term.

If we want to save the library, the only honest policy options to propose are alternative spending cuts or increasing the council tax.
Anything else is posturing.

Anonymous said...

There doing a major refurb job on the Torringdon Road Library.

max said...

I disagree that alternative cuts are the only way to save libraries.

A rethink of the way they work can deliver a model that is affordable, we must not let accountants decide that it's an open and shut case on services only because they can't envisage different ways of doing things.

Anonymous said...

has anyone done a proper audit of teh councils assets?

Anonymous said...

the council assets.

Anonymous said...

some libraries outside of the capital offer a whole host of things for sale and charge for DVD's and CD's (which they have a big selection of). Do Lewisham Libraries offer DVD's?

Anonymous said...

I understand that Lewisham Council own a whole load of commercial properties in the borough which they could sell off.

oryx said...

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when I read this, especially the words 'Immediate freeze on hiring new bureaucrats'!

TM said...

The full lsit of candidates has been published and includes a "Lewisham for people not profit candidate" who I don't think has been featured on here yet.

As they are anti profit I assume they will be in favour of the cuts........or not.

Cllr Mike Harris said...

As Ben Appleby has the ear of government with his close links to Ed Vaisey, perhaps he can lobby to ensure that Lewisham gets £153.8 million from the Homes and Communities Agency (as confirmed by the Labour government in
March 2010) now Lewisham Homes has achieved a 2* rating?

Being that this will bring 17,930 tenanted and leasehold properties up to the decent homes standard, it's crucial for the well-being of tens of thousands of local people.

Or, heaven forbid, is this just utterly cynical posturing by a politician who will soon disappear off to a safe parliamentary seat in the shire counties?

JoeC said...

This is one of the most unbalanced pieces I have read in some time. I understand that Mr Bullock would probably not speak to blogs, but that is no excuse for sloppy journalism. Try looking at the bigger picture in future.

"Most blogging is too angry and too abusive. It is vituperative."
– Andrew Marr

Danja said...

I agree, it almost read like a politician's campaign piece.

:roll

Anonymous said...

Is this the same Ed Vaizey who said:

“I hope we don't get hung up about library buildings. There's always a feeling that if a library closes, that's it, it's the end of the world. So there will be some re-shaping of library services but I do think it is important that we think imaginatively about where libraries could be. I wouldn't even have a problem, for example, if there was a library in a pub."

Anonymous said...

I would have no problem with a library in a pub...

max said...

Yeah! Leat's put a library in a pub, and in the middle of the library in the pub we put a skateboard ramp, inside it we put a nursery and in the middle of the nursery we put a drug rehab centre, and at the centre of it all we put Ed Vazey thinking outside the box.

drakefell debaser said...

I watched a news report a short time back where the local pub in a village was the library as well, a bit like the Orchard in a way with the books they have.

I think that whilst this might work in a small village, pubs in larger towns and cities are unlikely to want to give up too much of their floor space to a library as it will mean less punters and times for the average pub are tough. I also doubt the average landlord would want the hassle of chasing late returns, particularly in a city like London.

Brockley Nick said...

@JoeC - I don't know if you read this site regularly, but there are some occasions when I scrutinise politicians claims and some times when I simply report them and let BC readers make their own comments about what they have read. This was one of those occasions - I have been similarly uncritical of claims made by Mayor Bullock (who has on several occasions provided quotes for this site).

I don't really see the relevance of the Marr quote, since if anything, you seem to be accusing me of not being vituperative enough.

In any case, that quote made Marr sound like an old fool - it was his "What is Gazza? Is it an opera?" moment.

Brockley Nick said...

PS - I think BC readers have done a good job scrutinising this release, don't you?

TM said...

Aren't we missing a comment from Hugh in support of the Tories in general?

BrockleyCross said...

Apologies if it's old news - but Crofton Park library is mentioned here on BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/11503212

josh said...

any coments from yesterdays meeting. I was there seemed like not much hope for keeping our library

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