On December 5th 2011, Trafford Council announced their proposals for financial year 2012/13.
Part of their plans involve a re-organisation of library services in the Borough. Here is what it says in their document ‘Looking Forward’
Hale and Old Trafford Libraries
Hale and Old Trafford libraries serve very different communities but both are well used in different ways. The proposal for these two libraries is for them to be run by community groups or organisations and staffed by volunteers.
Trafford Council would still support the organisations by buying and maintaining the stock, maintaining the buildings and providing training to the groups that took on responsibility for the running of the library.
In return the groups/organisations would maintain the library service and activities at a reduced cost to the Council, thereby enabling the libraries to remain open. Any group/organisation wishing to get involved in this would need to sign up to a service level agreement (SLA) with the Council in order that standards and services would be maintained.
A member of Trafford staff will still be available to deal with Council enquiries such as council tax and benefits, waste and recycling, blue car badges and pest control. We are also proposing to provide a video link so customers can talk to staff in our Contact Centre.
As residents, community activists, community organisers, volunteers and voluntary sector workers in the area we object to this plan on several grounds.
1. We believe Old Trafford residents deserve a library staffed by professional librarians. As an area of multiple deprivation, with many vulnerable residents and where many of our young people do not have English as a first language, our need for professional, trained staff in our library is greater than most.
2. We are appalled by the proposal to use volunteers and the voluntary sector to directly substitute paid staff who face redundancy. Many Old Trafford library staff are our friends and neighbours, and we have no intention of enabling their redundancy by volunteering to do their important jobs for free. This is not the role of the voluntary sector.
3. We do not believe the proposal to run Old Trafford Library using only volunteers could work in the long term. It is not viable or sustainable. We are deeply concerned that if we allow the staff to be dismissed this year, then it is only a matter of time before we face reduced hours and ultimately total closure.
4. We see no rational reason why Old Trafford has been chosen (along with Hale) for this experiment. No justification or explanation has been given. We hold that it is arbitrary and unfair.
If Trafford Council persist with this proposal, we shall raise all these points using all legitimate means of campaigning at our disposal, beginning with the open letter from members of the Old Trafford Community and Voluntary Sector featured here, followed by public petitions, letter writing and other forms of protest.
If you agree with us on this, and would like to add your name to any letters and petitions or get involved in other ways, please watch this space and we shall keep you fully informed.