Tory councillors are going to press ahead with cuts to library opening hours following a deeply flawed consultation process that didn’t actually ask people about the cuts.
The library service within our constituency will be reduced by a total of at least 79 hours a week:
- Cheriton down from 45 to 28 hours per week (-17)
- Folkestone down from 61 to 43 hours per week (-18)
- Hythe down from 53 to 37 hours per week (-16)
- Lydd down from 27 to 23 hours per week (-4)
- Lyminge up from 22 to 28 hours per week (+6)
- New Romney down from 45 to 28 hours per week (-17)
- Wood Avenue down from 36 to 23 hours per week (-13)
Laura Davison, chair of Folkestone and Hythe Labour Party has released a statement slamming the process and the decision:
“The decision by Tory councillors to press ahead with cuts to our library opening hours is appalling. Who will be hit hardest? Vulnerable groups like carers and people with disabilities plus children and families.
Over 6000 people signed a petition against the plans and there was a very high response to the consultation. More than 170 organisations replied but their views have been ignored in favour of aggregated figures which appear to show a majority of replies are in favour of the cuts strategy. BUT the consultation did not ask how many people these groups represented and it did not ask specifically at all whether people agreed or disagreed with library hours being cut!
The whole exercise has been a colossal waste of time and energy to fit a predetermined outcome – hacking almost a million pounds from the libraries, registration and archives budget by crudely chopping opening hours and making skilled, experienced staff redundant. Presenting this strategy as a choice between cuts to hours or closing libraries was completely false.
We need councillors who will argue for proper funding for our local services backed by a government that actually cares. It is hardly surprising that KCC is pushing it through when 13 of the 16 members of the committee involved are Tories and only 2 members are women. We urgently need more Labour councillors and more women in local government. People in Folkestone and Hythe have the chance to vote for a team that will stand up for investment in our public services and not more damaging cuts on Thursday May 2nd.”