THE hint was dropped so heavily it nearly cracked the floorboards at Marsden Mechanics Hall.
Kirklees Council’s chief librarian Carol Stump was addressing concerned residents about the controversial plan to withdraw paid staff from seven village libraries to make room for the mythical Big Society to flourish.
With the public consultation still having a few weeks to run she told the public meeting: “There’s not a particular will to take over libraries and run them, but there’s some will to volunteer to help us to run the libraries service.”
In other words ‘we’ve realised that you’re not going to volunteer to slit your own throats, so we’re putting the knife away’.
The council’s original plan – that volunteers should take over the running of libraries in Slawit, Golcar, Lepton, Honley, Denby Dale, Shepley and Kirkheaton – is not quite dead.
But I think after Mrs Stump’s remarks a few weeks ago it’s fair to say that the proposal would struggle to get life insurance at this stage.
As one bad idea dies, another is about to be born.
For the Big Society has no sooner been kicked out of Huddersfield’s libraries than it is threatening to break into some of the town’s classrooms.
Last week the Department for Education announced that schools which become academies will be free to hire unqualified people to teach.
I can only assume that the education secretary Michael Gove is very proud of his latest cunning wheeze.
So, as a media-savvy former journalist, he chose the ideal time to announce the new policy, the point when he could expect the most coverage for his bold move – last Friday afternoon!
Coming a matter of hours before the Queen and Daniel Craig donned their parachutes, Mr Gove’s proposal to slash educational standards was somewhat lost in the build-up to the Olympic Games opening ceremony.
This media management is fiendishly complicated. Better luck next time.
From November any school which becomes an academy – which in effect means it’s run from Whitehall rather than town hall – will no longer have to obey the dreary old regulation which says that all teachers need Qualified Teacher Status.
According to the Department for Education this change will allow academies to hire “great linguists, computer scientists and engineers” even if said experts haven’t bothered completing a recognised teacher training course.
If Mr Gove cared to look I think he’d find that very few people manage to achieve greatness in any field without years of practice.