I’m despairing somewhat. The whizz-kids at Suffolk County Council are trying to close Bungay Library. We’ve only recently moved to the town and the library is one of its many aces. Possibly the ace of all the aces for us. It’s housed in a modern (90s) building, it’s light and airy, has all mod cons, friendly staff and a beautiful enclosed garden my son loves to run around in. The entrance hall is bright with posters and flyers for all sort of local events, there are always people using the facilities and at night it’s used as a meeting place for local clubs, from running clubs to sewing clubs. Basically, it’s a well loved, well used service in a great building.
What’s more it’s inexpensive. It’s certainly costs a hell of a lot less to run than it does to keep Suffolk County Councils CEO behind her desk for a year. Andrea Hill has an annual salary of over £220,000. And she’s not taking a pay cut! And they’re saying we should have our library closed!
These extortionate salaries are justified with a line such as this: “if we want the best people we have to compete with the private sector.” Which of course assumes ‘the best people’ are only out for the cash. I’d argue that many of the ‘best people’ earn salaries that do not compete with the private sector and it doesn’t matter to them, as long as they are treated fairly (ha, fat chance with this government). But even if we accept that weak line there is still no chance that people like Andrea Hill should be earning that kind of money now. You want to make it like the private sector, fine, do that, but when the money dries up, so do their salaries. The private sector would have a board room cull right about now. They wouldn’t stop making things or providing services, because otherwise they cease to exist.
Suffolk County Council should be cutting from the top down, not frontline services like libraries. Or maybe they should be putting up council tax cover some of the short fall. The reason they haven’t done that by they way is that the government has given them an £8m bribe not to. So Cameron can boast about council tax not rising in the commons. The whole thing is rotten and bent and wrong.
Anyway, for what good it’ll do I’ve written this poem, which sums up my feelings better than above rant:
An Ash of Dewey Decimals
In county halls across the land
the snakes who make two hundred grand
are rolling out a gruesome plan
to close the libraries.
The type who’s names appear on plaques
cry Prudence! as they strike a match
then hold it to a paperback
and something dies in me.
The misspelled writing’s on the wall
they’ll sell the land for shopping malls
an ash of Dewey Decimals
it makes good business sense.
Now reading groups and learning schemes
and safety nets for falling teens
are charcoal in a jack-boot dream
of raging discontent.
Meanwhile these lords in second homes
will whisper in their mobile phones
and purchase shares in Waterstones
Hurrah! A bumper year!
They gurn and cheer as Britain chokes
and public welfare sadly smokes:
We’re all in this together, folks!
Just drown yourself in beer.
And those who think these lines contrived
come here and look me in the eyes
and tell me this is civilised
don’t try to lie to me.
You damn the kids in rural towns
whose shoulders are not fit for gowns
you keep them thick and keep them down
in your Big Society.