Tuesday, 15 March 2011

When is a saving not a saving? A tale of some libraries


Readers will know that the Labour leadership of Bradford Council decided – with support from our local Liberal Democrats – that two libraries in Bingley Rural, at Wilsden and Denholme, should be closed as part of the budget “savings”. Along with three other libraries elsewhere, this action was to contribute £70,000 out of the £56,000,000 total saving.

Now, leaving aside the spiteful nature of such a cut, it appears that the saving is rather a fiction. Here’s part of the letter given to “users” of the library:

All the staff who currently work in these libraries will be redeployed to other libraries in the district.

In conjunction with this the Council will consult with local communities about how best to deliver their library service in the light of the reductions to the library service budget. The Council will also carry out a community needs assessment.

So let’s get this right – closing the libraries will not result in any savings in staff costs, there are unlikely to be any economies in the book budget as a result and the Council will also have to introduce new stops in its mobile service to pick up the reduction in service to these villages.

Three out of the five closing libraries are run from Council-owned premises (not specialist libraries but community centres) so there is no saving in rent and the impact on central overheads must be small given these are libraries mostly open just ten hours each week.

In truth – or at least as far I am able to ascertain – closing the two libraries in Bingley Rural will actually save Bradford Council the cost of the rent for space in Wilsden Village Hall (less that £2,000) and a minimal amount in heating and lighting.  It seems to me that closing these libraries merely realises make-believe savings in “full cost recovery” and central overheads that could, in truth, have be achieved without closing a single library.


1 comment:

SadButMadLad said...

Sounds like a classic case of shroud waving. Cut a service which is very visible and which actually makes a difference to some people but which makes no difference at all to any budget.

Workers are called workers because they work, they are the ones who do the productive work. Anybody else in any organisation is a drain. That includes managers, and pen pushers, etc. These are the ones who should be cut.

PS. You missed the new community needs assessment. It will cost time and money to carry out. At no real benefit because it'll probably be ignored.