I FIND it disappointing that despite what seem to be clear signals from Honley residents in respect of the future of the village library, Kirklees Council-produced notices are appearing in the village requesting residents to indicate their various attitudes to involvement as volunteers.
It seems to be a failure of council officers, the leader and senior members of council to recognise the possible reaction to what can only be seen as ‘confrontational’ notices.
But also I believe that concerns re the library (and the other six under threat) raise other more general issues.
Council members are ‘between a rock and a hard place’ wishing to preserve services but cuts in some services are inevitable because of the present Government’s policy perhaps as a result, I think it has been accepted to a degree, of the deficits they inherited on taking office.
On the front of a document received with our council tax bills there is the statement: “Budgets have been agreed over the next three years and we continue to reorganise the council to meet your priorities.’’ It did not say ‘with the exception of seven rural libraries’ but this seems to be the council’s intention.
It would seem the cost of staffing the libraries is only one of the lesser factors in the cost saving equation. If the council consider it inevitable that they replace a number of paid staff with volunteers do these posts have to be from the rural libraries?
Many people do voluntary work and there may be people throughout Kirklees who would be prepared to give time to voluntary work in libraries.
In that case I would suggest that a good number of volunteers could be accommodated in the Kirklees larger libraries where they will have structure and ongoing support from the professional library staff.
I believe that our three Honley councillors do not necessarily ‘have the ear’ of the governing group. People involved in any campaign need to be able to put forward alternatives to whatever is proposed by those in control. They cannot afford to be totally negative.
It is extremely difficult for members of the community to have sufficient detail of council departments’ profiles to suggest alternatives to whatever is being proposed. This is where real support from our councillors is required.
I believe their attendance at our protest meetings show a degree of commitment but I wonder if they have any significant role in the process to influence the governing party.
Despite what I see as their relative inability to influence at council level, I feel it would be helpful if they could offer suggestions on where they feel finance is being allocated that could reasonably be transferred to save those libraries that are under threat?
This would definitely assist in our campaign.
Ward councillors are now a large charge on the electorate. Contrast this with the past when the majority of councillors had full-time jobs and received only reimbursement of any expenses incurred in doing enjoyable voluntary work as a councillor from which they got much personal satisfaction.
I would ask “does the demand from the public warrant the costs incurred in having three councillors per ward?”
I wonder if records are available for public scrutiny of the work of individual councillors? If not, they should be. If it could be shown that two councillors per ward would be sufficient, a considerable sum could be released for services – just a point to consider in the overall discussion.