Oxford Mail : 14th May
PM Cameron talks about his first year in charge
Q. Do you agree with cutting library services in Oxfordshire?
A. What the County (council) is now proposing is significantly changed. They are looking for ways to keep libraries open and looking for ways to maintain them.
Of course I have discussed it with Keith Mitchell, but it is his decision.
Alan Gibbons comments:
“This comment exposes the moral bankruptcy of the Tory-led coalition government’s approach. They restrict national funds, passing the responsibility for cutting services to councils then they say: ‘Don’t blame us. It is up to the councillors.'”
“Wrong, wrong, wrong. Her Majesty’s Government has a legal responsibility to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ service. Yes, their legal eagles can squirm out of this responsibility most of the time because there is no clear definition of ‘comprehensive and efficient’ but no, this is not leadership. It is intellectual bankruptcy. It is subterfuge.
“I have a simple question. Does reading matter? If it does, another question follows. Are libraries the most effective way of promoting reading? If that too is true, another question follows. How can you permit local authorities stuffed by your own party members, to close these effective agencies of literacy? How can you allow schools to close School Library Services and make school librarians redundant? Finally, how dare you do it when the UK has slipped from seventh to twenty fifth in just over a decade in international reading comparisons?
“We want answers and a bland passing of the buck is insufficient. To David Cameron I say this: it isn’t Keith Mitchell’s decision. Mr Mitchell is doing what he is in the context of Chancellor Osborne’s spending review. If libraries close it is ultimately your responsibility. Bear it. Justify it. Better still, reverse your policy.”