Libraries – RMBC Cabinet Minutes for 4th July

Dear Rotherham Friends,

Well the decidedly dodgy Corn Fed Grunters, Muppets and Clowns at Town Hall Towers can’t say that when they slash my highly-successful Wickersley Library’s opening hours by more than 10% after their supposed “consultation” that no-one gave them any views and opinions in direct opposition to their latest piece of civic and literary vandalism.

Here for posterity and information are the RMBC Cabinet Minutes for 4th July when I publically asked the higher-paid-than-Sheffield-City-Councillor and junketing-mad RMBC Cabinet why my Wickersley community is proposed to be so nastily and vindictively disadvantaged –

http://moderngov.rotherham.gov.uk/mgConvert2PDF.aspx?ID=11002&T=1

I did follow up with a demand for the “Local Needs Assessment” report which Cabinet Member Cllr Amy Rushforth decided to hide behind and to rely on as her shield for defence in her answer to me.

Those of you who know me, are quite well aware, even if the Corn Fed Grunters, Muppets and Clowns are not, that this document will be obtained from them either the easy way or the hard way, and that I’m not bothered which way it comes – but come it most certainly will.

I would advise and urge anyone who has an opinion on the way that their community is governed by these Corn Fed Grunters, Muppets and Clowns to e-mail and challenge and scrutinise those who seek highly-paid public office to govern us with our consent and who then engage in the profligate use of our hard-earned tax receipts to disadvantage our communities like mine here in Wickersley.

They don’t like, and are not used to, being challenged – well tough, cos there’ll be more not less in the future

Kind Regards,
Don Buxton

Don Buxton makes his position crystal clear!

Don Buxton makes his position crystal clear, in this latest email contribution in the saga of the Libraries consultation:

Dear libraryreview@rotherham.gov.uk

I wish to formally record my complete disapproval and downright hostility to the proposal to reduce my highly successful Wickersley Library’s hours from 45 hours per week to 40 hours per week.

RMBC has not provided me with one piece of independently accredited evidence which informs me why my highly successful library is being so targetted.

Yet again, my community is destined to be significantly disadvantaged, whereas by contrast the much less used and much less patronised library at Aston, in the Holderness Ward of Cllr Gerald Smith, is to have its hours increased from 44.5 hours per week to 49 hours per week!

My community has sadly become used to being overruled, ignored, and disadvantaged in any matter in which the above Councillor has any presence, influence or input, and I have now lost all faith in the impartiality and integrity of RMBC Elected Members and Officers to govern my community with any sense of justice or fairness.

I have sought public assurances from the Wickersley Ward and Hellaby Ward Councillors as to whether or not they will be objecting to the proposed reduction in Wickersley’s hours and Cllr Lauren Astbury has publically confirmed in an e-mail to me that she will not be objecting.

So much for people who seek well-paid public office to represent the interests of the voters!

Based on my previous experience in my community I have little doubt that this “consultation” is yet another RMBC pretence and that all objections and views will be overruled and ignored and RMBC will steamroller through their plans – as they have planned to do all along.

RMBC’s Figures:

Wickersley Library
current hours = 45 per week
proposed hours = reduction to 40 per week
visits per year = 66,990
active borrowers = 3,642

Aston Library
current hours = 44.5 per week
proposed hours = 49 per week
visits per year = 53,155
active borrowers = 3,158

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton
Active and Empowered Wickersley Citizen, Ratepayer, Resident and Voter

P.S. Please provide an e-mail acknowledgement of receipt of this e-mail

Libraries – Don Buxton asks more very good questions

We again bring you the latest in this series of correspondence with respect to the Libraries Consultation and the Assessment of Local Need. Latest first, as usual.

Dear “Murphy, Bernard” <Bernard.Murphy@rotherham.gov.uk>

Thank you for your response,

As an avid reader and lifelong supporter of adult and child literacy I have perused your response and I intriguingly note that you refer to: “It has been demonstrated in the past, in a number of other local authority areas, that changes in opening hours can actually maintain or increase usage, so long as the hours  are the right ones”.

As you have been bold and apparently informed enough to make the above statement to me I now require for you and/or an RMBC colleague to provide the following information for me in order that I can aspire to reach that same informed and knowledgable state –

(a) when “it has been demonstrated in the past”.

(b) to which “local authority areas” you refer.

(c) what “changes in opening hours can actually maintain or increase usage”.

(d) who, and on what specific basis, decides which “hours are the right ones”.

Please provide me with specific information to confirm the veracity and integrity of your statement of supposed facts to me and please provide this information in electronic format and within the timescale prescribed in the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Thu, 12/7/12, Murphy, Bernard <Bernard.Murphy@rotherham.gov.uk> wrote:
From: Murphy, Bernard <Bernard.Murphy@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: Assessment of Local Need
To: DON BUXTON
Date: Thursday, 12 July, 2012, 18:31

Dear Mr Buxton,

Thank you again for your interest in and contributions to the consultation regarding the current review of library provision.

First of all, it is important to stress that at this stage we are considering a number of proposals and that any decisions will only be made by elected members once feedback from the public consultation has been analysed.

Following the decisions by members to review the service (November 2011) and to take proposals out to public consultation (June 2012), we are expecting to present the results of public consultation to them in the autumn.

The challenge presented to the Library and Information Service was to deliver a modern, vibrant library service within the resource available to use.  We have therefore considered the need for, the usage of and the accessibility of the service across the whole of the Borough when drawing up proposals.

Proposals also take into account the Library and Information Service Strategy 2011-15, which was developed following public consultation and is available on the Library Service’s website. (www.rotherham.gov.uk/libraries). This also sets out the priorities for the service.

The context for the review is a recent period of positive investment in our library service in terms of bookfund, construction, modernisation, replacement and refurbishment including the opening of six new libraries in as many years. (Thorpe Hesley 2007, Wickersley 2008, Mowbray Gardens 2009, Aston 2010, Riverside and Rawmarsh 2012). We are proud of our library service in Rotherham and hope that this review will equip us to continue to provide a modern vibrant library service across the borough.

With regard to Wickersley Library specifically, the Council contributed around £570,000 to the cost of the capital development of the site and continues to support the service with an ongoing revenue contribution.

The proposals are based on an assessment of local need for the service, rather than purely current usage. This includes the development of a number of ‘hub’ sites across the Borough( currently proposed  for Wath, Riverside House, Dinnington and Aston) These sites would have extended opening hours and also offer access to additional Council and partner services.

It has been demonstrated in the past, in a number of other local authority areas, that changes in opening hours can actually maintain or increase usage, so long as the hours  are the right ones. So for example, if the library is very quiet on one day, then moving some of those hours to another day or evening could open it up to more people within the local community. As part of the consultation, we hope that local people will contribute their local knowledge/community background.

Thank you once again for your contributions to the debate so far. I hope that you will be available to attend on July 17 at Wickersley Library so that we can listen to and record your views on potential opening hours for Wickersley and all the Library Review proposals.

Bernard Murphy
Manager : Library and Information Service
Cultural Services
Environment and Development Services
Rotherham MBC ,3rd Floor, Wing A, Riverside House, Main Street
Rotherham S60  1AE

Libraries – Don Buxton asks very good questions

We bring you the latest in this series of correspondence with respect to the Libraries Consultation and the Assessment of Local Need. Latest first, as usual.

Don Buxton responded thus on Thursday, 12 July, 2012, 19:03, in his inimitable style:

Dear “Murphy, Bernard” <Bernard.Murphy@rotherham.gov.uk>

Thank you for your comprehensive, confusing and highly obfuscating response.

You have spectacularly failed to demonstrate or answer why my highly successful and well patronised library at Wickersley (RMBC’s figures – not mine) is to be disadvantaged in favour of the much lesser used and much less successful library at Aston (RMBC’s figures – not mine).

Once again, I request that you specify in clear, exact and unambiguous terms exactly why my Wickersley Library is earmarked for a reduction in hours.

You have stated: “The proposals are based on an assessment of local need for the service, rather than purely current usage. This includes the development of a number of ‘hub’ sites across the Borough( currently proposed  for Wath, Riverside House, Dinnington and Aston) These sites would have extended opening hours and also offer access to additional Council and partner services”.

Please provide me with an electronic copy of the specific document “Assessment of Local Need” to which you refer. You may wish to refer this to your FOI colleagues for their assistance, but either way, this is not a request it is a DEMAND for the document/report to which you refer.

If my wording and requirements are in any way unclear to you or your colleagues then please don’t hesitate to contact me by e-mail.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Thu, 12/7/12, Murphy, Bernard wrote:
From: Murphy, Bernard <Bernard.Murphy@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: Assessment of Local Need
To: DON BUXTON
Date: Thursday, 12 July, 2012, 18:31

Dear Mr Buxton,

Thank you again for your interest in and contributions to the consultation regarding the current review of library provision.

First of all, it is important to stress that at this stage we are considering a number of proposals and that any decisions will only be made by elected members once feedback from the public consultation has been analysed.

Following the decisions by members to review the service (November 2011) and to take proposals out to public consultation (June 2012), we are expecting to present the results of public consultation to them in the autumn.

The challenge presented to the Library and Information Service was to deliver a modern, vibrant library service within the resource available to use.  We have therefore considered the need for, the usage of and the accessibility of the service across the whole of the Borough when drawing up proposals.

Proposals also take into account the Library and Information Service Strategy 2011-15, which was developed following public consultation and is available on the Library Service’s website. (www.rotherham.gov.uk/libraries). This also sets out the priorities for the service.

The context for the review is a recent period of positive investment in our library service in terms of bookfund, construction, modernisation, replacement and refurbishment including the opening of six new libraries in as many years. (Thorpe Hesley 2007, Wickersley 2008, Mowbray Gardens 2009, Aston 2010, Riverside and Rawmarsh 2012). We are proud of our library service in Rotherham and hope that this review will equip us to continue to provide a modern vibrant library service across the borough.

With regard to Wickersley Library specifically, the Council contributed around £570,000 to the cost of the capital development of the site and continues to support the service with an ongoing revenue contribution.

The proposals are based on an assessment of local need for the service, rather than purely current usage. This includes the development of a number of ‘hub’ sites across the Borough( currently proposed  for Wath, Riverside House, Dinnington and Aston) These sites would have extended opening hours and also offer access to additional Council and partner services.

It has been demonstrated in the past, in a number of other local authority areas, that changes in opening hours can actually maintain or increase usage, so long as the hours  are the right ones. So for example, if the library is very quiet on one day, then moving some of those hours to another day or evening could open it up to more people within the local community. As part of the consultation, we hope that local people will contribute their local knowledge/community background.

Thank you once again for your contributions to the debate so far. I hope that you will be available to attend on July 17 at Wickersley Library so that we can listen to and record your views on potential opening hours for Wickersley and all the Library Review proposals.

Bernard Murphy
Manager : Library and Information Service
Cultural Services
Environment and Development Services
Rotherham MBC ,3rd Floor, Wing A, Riverside House, Main Street
Rotherham S60  1AE

Previously: Libraries – Assessment of Local Need? Consultation Events.

Discourtesy – Jenny Andrews, Lauren Astbury and Lynda Donaldson A response at last!

Reproduced below are the Emails between Don Buxton and Cllr Astbury and Cllr Andrews, latest first:

Dear Cllr Astbury,

Your mistake is noted.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Tue, 10/7/12, Astbury, Lauren wrote:

From: Astbury, Lauren
Subject: RE: Libraries Review Consultation
To: DON BUXTON
Cc: “Akhtar, Jahangir” <Jahangir.Akhtar@rotherham.gov.uk>, “Stone, Roger” <Roger.Stone@rotherham.gov.uk>
Date: Tuesday, 10 July, 2012, 11:25

Mr Buxton,

Let me fix my mistake in my previous email all dates take place in July not April

Thanks, Cllr Astbury

Dear Cllr Astbury,

Thank you for your e-mail.

As you have already publically confirmed to me that you have no intention of challenging the “proposed” reduction in hours at my highly successful and well patronised Wickersley Library I am at a complete loss to understand what I may gain from engaging in any off-the-record, informal and unrecorded face-to-face conversation with you.

You have publically failed to fully answer my questions (a) to (g) and until you do I can see no advantage to me or my community in us meeting. My public questions to you surely must have given you an indication of my outright hostility and disapproval for the proposed reduction in my library’s hours.

I have no wish to become engaged in a stage-managed RMBC tick-box exercise where you can illustrate that you have “consultated, engaged and communicated with local communities”, and then ignore them and nod through what you intended to nod through all along as a pretence at democracy.

Please don’t forget that citizens here in Wickersley Parish have got long memories of the way that RMBC Cabinet Members have overruled, ignored and disadvantaged them in the recent past.

Of course, if you were to publically reconsider your refusal to object to the reduction in Wickersley’s hours then that would be a completely new and different set of circumstances and one in which I would consider meeting with you to discuss a positive way forward for my community and its library.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Tue, 10/7/12, Astbury, Lauren wrote:

From: Astbury, Lauren
Subject: RE: Libraries Review Consultation
To: DON BUXTON
Cc: “Akhtar, Jahangir” <Jahangir.Akhtar@rotherham.gov.uk>, “Stone, Roger” <Roger.Stone@rotherham.gov.uk>
Date: Tuesday, 10 July, 2012, 11:17

Dear Mr Buxton,

I would very much appreciate a face to face discussion on this obviously sensitive issue I will be at the library consultation on the 14th April I have a surgery in hellaby on that day as well and another in Wickersley library on the 21st I hope to meet with you to address the problem and see each other’s point of view.

Your’s faithfully
Councillor Astbury

From: DON BUXTON
Sent: 10 July 2012 09:55
To: Astbury, Lauren; Andrews, Jenny; Donaldson, Lynda
Subject: RE: Libraries Review Consultation

Dear Cllr Astbury,

No arguments are necessary at all, just simple answers to my simple questions will suffice. I note your response and your courteous use of my title.

I also note that you have confirmed that –

“In terms to whether I will be objecting to Wickersley library opening being cut by 5 hour  my answer is at the present time I do not intend to”

No doubt some of your ward constituents, voters and many Wickersley Library users will reflect on your shameful lack of support for our wonderful library here in Wickersley.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

Dear Cllr Astbury,

No arguments are necessary at all, just simple answers to my simple questions will suffice. I note your response and your courteous use of my title.

I also note that you have confirmed that –
“In terms to whether I will be objecting to Wickersley library opening being cut by 5 hour  my answer is at the present time I do not intend to”

No doubt some of your ward constituents, voters and many Wickersley Library users will reflect on your shameful lack of support for our wonderful library here in Wickersley.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Tue, 10/7/12, Astbury, Lauren wrote:
From: Astbury, Lauren <Lauren.Astbury@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: Libraries Review Consultation
To: DON BUXTON
Date: Tuesday, 10 July, 2012, 8:15

Mr Buxton,

I do not intend to get into an argument with you over the internet, I found your second email to me to be fairly rude. In terms to whether I will be objecting to Wickersley library opening being cut by 5 hour  my answer is at the present time I do not intend to.

Yours Sincerely
Cllr Astbury

Dear Cllr Astbury,

Your curt and very rude e-mail to me is noted.

I particularly dislike the discourteous way in which you have replied to me, and also the fact that you have failed to answer any of my very simple questions (a) to (g).

I hope that you will be able to supply a comprehensive reply to my legitimate questions and are also able to afford me the same literary courtesy as that which I have afforded to you.

For the record you will note that my full name is “Donald H. Buxton”, and the usual English courtesy is to preface your reply with “Dear Mr Buxton”.

I look forward to your use of such simple courtesies in any future correspondence you have with me.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Mon, 9/7/12, Astbury, Lauren wrote:
From: Astbury, Lauren
Subject: RE: Libraries Review Consultation
To: DON BUXTON
Date: Monday, 9 July, 2012, 10:15

Your objection of the future opening hours of Wickersley library which is proposed to be cut by five hours per week has been noted Mr Buxton. I will try to attend the wickersley consultation on the 17th July.

Dear Cllr Andrews,

Thank you for your response.

1. I am not aware that we are friends, acquaintances or professional colleagues and therefore I find it highly presumptive and most discourteous of you to address me as “Don” in your response. Please afford me the courtesy of addressing me with my full name, either with the title “Mr” or without.

2. My original e-mail to you and the other two Hellaby Ward Councillors was very specific in the scope and content of its questions (a) through to (g) and I was hoping that you would provide very specific answers to those questions, which I note you have still declined to answer, and which I hope you will have the courtesy of fully responding to.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

On Sun, 8/7/12, Andrews, Jenny wrote:

From: Andrews, Jenny <Jenny.Andrews@rotherham.gov.uk>
Subject: RE: Libraries Review Consultation
To: DON BUXTON
Date: Sunday, 8 July, 2012, 23:27

Hi Don,

I do apologise for the delay in replyingour email, I did pass on your concerns to Cllr Rushforth, which I was informed you were going to a cabinet meeting last Wednesday to discuss the issues.

If you would like to discuss your concerns feel free to contact me, or attend the Hellaby ward surgeries that I hold with my Colleague Cllr Lauren Astbury. Wickersley is the third Saturday of every month at Wickersley Community Library.

Kind Regards

Cllr Jenny Andrews

Discourtesy – Jenny Andrews, Lauren Astbury and Lynda Donaldson

Dear jenny.andrews@rotherham.gov.uk, lauren.astbury@rotherham.gov.uk, lynda.donaldson@rotherham.gov.uk

I note with profound concern, but no surprise whatsoever, that I have had neither the courtesy of –

(a) an acknowledgement or,

(b) a reply or,

(c) a response

from any of you in relation to my e-mail of concern dated Monday, 2 July, 2012, 20:29, and which I am again forwarding on to you for your perusal.

Your early attention to the above would be of help in restoring what little confidence I have in RMBC Elected Members and Officers.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton

Don tries to enlist support over Wickersley Library

Cabinet question – Don Buxton follows up?

Dear chiefexecutive@rotherham.gov.uk

You may recall that on Wednesday 4 July 2012 I visited the RMBC Cabinet Meeting and asked the following question in connection with the Proposed Changes to Rotherham’s Library and Information Service:

“What independently accredited Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound criteria have RMBC Elected Members and Officers applied to determine that my very successful community library at Wickersley should be disadvantaged by a factor of more than 10% in the proposal to reduce its opening hours?”

The Chairman, Cllr Jahangir Akhtar, thanked me for the question and delegated Cllr Amy Rushforth to respond, which she did. I made notes of her response, among which was a reference to a “Local Needs Assessment”.

I shall be grateful if you, or one of your subordinate employees will provide me with an electronic copy of the document to which Cllr Amy Rushforth was referring, as I wish to acquaint myself with the methods, protocols, manner and weighting under which such “Local Needs Assessment” has been conducted and which has led to the recommendation by your staff that my very successful community library at Wickersley be disadvantaged by a proposed reduction in its opening hours.

I hope that you are able to assist me with this simple request and thus prevent the need for me to revert to use of the Freedom of Information Act to obtain statutory information.

On a final note I wish to thank the very pleasant and welcoming RMBC front counter staff and colleagues who kindly ushered me to the public chamber and ensured for my hospitality and comfort by providing me with a splendid mug of first-class coffee and a useful explanation to the use of the microphone.

Yours Sincerely,
Donald H. Buxton