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Friday, August 17, 2012

Never has a council so misjudged the feelings of the electorate. Wolverhampton and its Community Hubs.

Wolverhampton’s Labour Council proposes the rationalisation of its library, youth and community provision to create enhanced and efficient provision.

Logical enough until you look at the detail and the implications of the proposals. Those proposing the scheme, must be on the receiving end of an ear-wigging from fellow councillors for getting their party into this pickle. People are taking localism at face value and the council is left reeling.

They must just wish that the whole thing is a bad dream and will go away. There are no votes in it, local communities are disrupted and the savings of £1m out of a total budget of billions are scrawny.

Instinctively, we look to libraries for professional personal support – something that automatic checking-in machines can’t give. How much trialling and for how long has been done with pilot schemes? A year plus at least is deserved, but it seems we are talking of months. For a major change to our services we need a much better evidence base.

This is bad policy, bad politics and bad presentation/consultation. Interesting that the proposals did not receive the light of day until after votes were cast in last May’s  local elections. Something to fear perhaps from a hostile electorate?

Petitions, letters to the press, phone-ins and a campaign website indicate the wealth of criticism directed at the policy. Makes one wonder how many other Labour-council policies have been introduced with such scanty popular support.