Over 3,000 responses to library consultation document. Trouble is, there are two documents.

By Jess Owen

Survey about libraries spending in Camden
Camden is consulting about reduced spending on libraries after a decision to cut £2m.

Camden Council is consulting library users after the Cabinet decided to reduce spending on libraries from £8m to £6m a year by 2014. The consultation runs until Monday 4 April.

So far over 3,000 replies have been received. About half of these were through the paper consultation, still available from all library sites (and which can also be printed out from Camden’s  website); the remainder being submitted through an online survey, also found on the council’s website.

The latter has a flaw. The paper version will permit a respondent to choose for none of the cuts proposed by the Council, as some already have. By contrast, the online version will not allow a respondent to proceed past the first page without selecting an option that leads to either library closures or reductions in hours across the borough.

It will be interesting to see if the final report on this ‘consultation’, due in ‘late May’, will be weighted to take account of such restrictions.

A spokesperson for Camden Council told Fitzrovia News “We have commissioned a market research company to support the consultation, provide topline analysis and verify the outcomes at a cost of £25,000”.

People campaigning against the cuts in spending on libraries say they are opposed to any reduction in library services in Camden, whether this be in the form of reduced opening hours, cuts in paid staffing or library closures.

For campaigners against the cuts to library services this is a consultation taking place after a decision has been made to cut £2m from the libraries budget.

One of the campaigners, Philip Lewis of Camden Unison, says

Libraries are also the hub of our communities and the loss of local services would inevitably lead to a reduction in community cohesion and an increase in individual isolation. This in turn would impact on other already over-stretched and threatened voluntary and public services. We call upon councillors to look at the true cost of reducing Camden’s library services and to re-consider the £2m cut.

There is a petition to save Camden’s library service at http://www.petition.co.uk/save-camden-libraries

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