THE FOLLOWING OPEN LETTER IS BEING SENT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE, MEDIA AND SPORT AND TO THE PRESS TODAY.
I AM INCLUDING A SMALL PROPORTION OF THE MANY PAGES OF SIGNATURES. MY APOLOGIES FOR NOT DISPLAYING EVERYONE’S CONTRIBUTION BUT THE LIST IS FAR TOO LONG TO PUBLISH IN FULL IN THIS FORUM.
Open letter to Jeremy Hunt MP and Ed Vaizey MP, Ministers at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport
Dear Jeremy Hunt and Ed Vaizey,
Library users and staff across the country are increasingly concerned at the implications of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Over 250 library closures have been announced. Some, for example those in Oxfordshire and Lewisham, are in areas involved in the pilot of the Future Libraries Programme which promised: “A strong library
service, based around the needs of local people, can play a key role in our ambitions to build the Big Society by providing safe and inclusive spaces for people to read, learn and access a range of community services.”
When the then Secretary of State Andy Burnham hesitated over halting Wirral’s attempted closure of half its libraries just over a year ago, Ed Vaizey said: “If Andy Burnham is not prepared to intervene when library provision is slashed in a local authority such as the Wirral, it is clear that he is ignoring his responsibilities as secretary of state.” Andy Burnham did, of course, change his mind under pressure after several months.
Now cuts approaching the scale of those in the Wirral are being repeated across the country, not only in Oxfordshire and Lewisham, but in Buckinghamshire, Nottinghamshire, Leeds, Brent, Gloucestershire and many, many more. Ed Vaizey has written to councils reminding them of their duty under the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service.
It is becoming commonplace for councils to close up to half their library branch networks. It would be inconsistent if the DCMS did not superintend councils acting as unjustifiably as Wirral, preventing the slashing of services.
We call on the DCMS not to ignore its responsibilities. We ask you to act in the spirit of the 1964 Act and prevent councils inflicting cuts which amount to cultural vandalism.
Organiser, the Campaign for the Book
The following authors, illustrators, poets, publishers, librarians, teachers, journalists, agents, screenwriters, translators, film producers and general readers have signed the petition:
Peter Dickinson OBE
Barry Cryer, comedian and writer
Carol Ann Duffy
“Closing our libraries will make us a nation of numbskulls – the Illiterati.” Kathy Lette.
Barrie Cunningham OBE
Lisa Appignanesi, President English PEN
Susan Barry and Marlene Johnson, Hachette Children’s Books
Danuta Kean, Deputy Director, Creative Enterprise Centre, School of Arts, Brunel University
Mark Le Fanu, Society of Authors
Professor Stuart Hall
Anne Chisholm, Chair, Royal Society of Literature
Tricia Adams, Director, School Library Association
Biddy Fisher, Cilip President
Hannah Plom, Hon Secretary, Cilip YLG
Rebecca Hemming, Chair, Cilip SLG
Duncan Wright, School Librarian of the Year, 2010
Moris Farhi MBE
Dr Jessie Hey
Christine Blower, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers
Kevin Courtney, Deputy General Secretary, NUT
Susan Shaper, Cilip’s SLG committee
M G Harris
Andrew Fusek Peters
Kay Green, Earlyworks Press
Peter Cox, Litopia
Vanessa Harbour, Editor, Write4Children
Sally Kincaid, Divisional Secretary, Wakefield and District NUT
John Illingworth, former president NUT
Barry Conway, Secretary, Bolton NUT
Ian Harris, Secretary Wirral NUT
Mick Wattam, Doncaster UCATT treasurer
Jim Board, Secretary, Doncaster Unison
Ian Leaver, Secretary NUT Leicester
Jenny Day, President NUT Leicester
Peter Flack, Assistant Secretary NUT Leicester
Andy Reeve, Secretary Leicestershire NUT
Bernard Harper, President, Leicester and District Trades Council
Caroline Horn, Director, Reading Zone
Nikki Gamble, Write Away
Michael Thorn, ACHUKA