‘Lets get everyone involved, we want to hear from local people about their services’ has been the cry from all the Conservative members of both the City and County councils. The legislation was passed to say that a petition could be raised to force Councils to discuss issues which have enough interest. So FOGL (Friends Of Gloucestershire Libraries) raised a 13,000 name petition which should have triggered a discussion and vote over the Library cuts issue.
However what happened was a hushed private meeting, then using a legal loophole, saying the legislations did not provide for it. So that does lead you tot he question, so what is the point of it?
What is even worse is that County Council Leader, Mark Hawthorne, said “I am frustrated the council meeting was such a train wreck today.”
And so he should be, he is the driver of the train, in his position as leader.
However it seems it is not his fault, he went on to say “The council chairman holds a meeting the week before each full council to resolve exactly this sort of procedural issue. Sadly no one from the Labour, Liberal Democrat or Independent groups took the time to attend. The chaos that ensued is an understandable result.”
Hold on here, that sounds like an excuse if I ever heard one. They have known about this for weeks. They hold a meeting a week before, in which to discuss, and just because the opposition did not turn up they do not do anything about it? Is there only going to be a problem if the opposition point it out? The Leader, and I will say that again, the Leader decides that it won’t be a problem, even though over 13,000 people signed up. Did he attend the meeting? Did he not foresee the issue? If not, why not?
This needs to be investigated, as soon as possible. Regardless of the actual issue and my thoughts on that, I think that Mark Hawthorne has to take responsibility for the lack of democratic process that was supposed to happen and the way that the concerned people of Gloucestershire have taken an interest in a topic have just been cold shouldered is a disgrace.
- Without libraries, we will lose a mark of our civilisation | Catherine Bennett | Comment is free | The Observer (guardian.co.uk)
- Gloucestershire County Council library cut details (thisisgloucestershire.co.uk)