Save Ealing Libraries from Outsourcing, from Using Volunteers & Save Library Jobs

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Ealing, along with Croydon, Harrow and Hounslow, outsourced its library services in September 2013, to the contractor John Laing Integrated Services, which sold the contract on to Carillion in 2013, and it was, in turn, subsequently managed under the umbrella of 'Cultural Community Services'.

Following the collapse of Carillion (January 16th 2018) the Save Ealing Libraries from Being Outsourced & Save Library Jobs petition was set up Monday, 22nd January 2018 to express public objection to Ealing's library services remaining outsourced by Carillion or being outsourced to any other private company in the future.

Soon after the compulsory liquidation of Carillion, Croydon severed its eight-year contract with the company to bring its library service back under Council control, while Hounslow Council had already terminated its contract with Carillion last July 2017.

Bowing to public pressure after nearly 2,500 signatures were gathered, on Friday 26th January 2018, the Council announced that it would bring Ealing's library service back under its direct control from Thursday 1st February 2018, to ‘ensure continuity of service for library users and allow time for all the options for the future of the service to be reviewed and considered.’

The full notification is available via this link: https://www.ealing.gov.uk/news/article/1722/changes_to_ealing_library_service The  Leader of the Council, Julian Bell, later confirmed that "in making the long-term decision, an in-house option will certainly be on the table."

So on 1st February 2018 Ealing Council transferred its 'front-line operational staff (about 114 individuals) in Ealing’s libraries into council employment on the same terms and conditions as they had under Carillion.' This was welcomed by our widespread campaigners, residents of Ealing and Ealing Library users.

However, the council made it clear that over the coming months it was seeking to use the 'experience of running the service in-house' in the hope that it will provide 'real-world evidence' about the 'costs and benefits of an in-house option' which could be weighed up against 'going to a contracted-out option.' (Julian Bell, 29th January 2018).

Since then there have been various updates over the past year, which you can find when you scroll down on this site. The most recent one concerns the shocking news which was formally proposed on 15th January 2019 at an Ealing Cabinet meeting, (almost one year ago to the day since Carillion's collapse), that Ealing Council plans to make drastic cuts to itsservice as well as to its Early Years services. Ealing Council argues that these cuts are necessary due to a reduction in grants from Central government.

It proposed that seven of its thirteen libraries (namely, Greenford, Hanwell, Perivale, Pitshanger, West Ealing, Wood End, Northfields) would no longer have any paid, professional staff and would be dependent instead on volunteers, unpaid members of the community to keep them running.

Furthermore, that if no community groups were forthcoming the libraries will be closed permanently. Some libraries will be relocated to new sites, while their former library sites will end up being sold off to the highest bidder. Evidently, one year on the petition still very much applies, more now than ever!

In the light of the Council’s statement of its position, we, the undersigned, petition the council to commit to keeping all of Ealing’s 13 libraries under its control on a permanent basis to safeguard its future library provision plus guarantee the jobs of library staff.

1) We object fundamentally to the Council's recent proposals;

2) We object to the Council considering the possibility of any future outsourcing as an option, since the experience and well documented failure of Carillion

(https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/17/london-libraries-assess-impact-of-carillion-collapse
like the experience of outsourcing libraries in the USA - in relation to the US private library firm LS & S losing its contract in Santa Clarita, California- (http://www.publiclibrariesnews.com/campaigning/privatized-libraries-outsourcing-library-services/con, show that it is just not a viable option.

If Ealing’s Library service were to suffer any job losses across the borough, we believe it would have irreparable damage on librarian families and the local economy. Furthermore, any future library closures would also place various communities at risk by:

1. Denying children, young people and youth groups the opportunity to access books, community learning and cultural facilities.

2. Isolating vulnerable groups such as the elderly and disabled who would otherwise make use of the library.

3. Excluding unemployed men and women from accessing the internet to seek job employment.

Our libraries are beacons of our communities.

No one knows this more than Professor Benjamin Zephaniah, whose picture with some members of Writing, Acting & Publishing Project for Youngsters (WAPPY), is the face of this campaign. Reflecting on his visit to Ealing's flagship Central Library in September 2014, where he was entertained and interviewed about his life and works, he writes this in support of the campaign,

"Ealing Library is not just another business on the high street, it is a sanctuary, a safe place, and a place of learning. It is a place that has turned lives around and saved lives. It should never be left to companies who are motivated by financial profit. The jobs of the people that work at this library must be protected. The people who have dedicated so much of their lives to this place must be respected. I have always received a wonderful welcome when I visit this library, and I know how much it means to the community. Save it, and you’ll save us." Professor Benjamin Zephaniah (22nd January 2018). 

Michael Rosen, Children's Novelist and Poet has also endorsed the campaign. He comments that,

"We must save libraries for all our sakes, so that we can find what we want to read, but especially for people who don't have the space or the resources to have access to books, information and a place to meet and talk." Michael Rosen (24th January 2018). 

Vivian French, Children’s Author and Playwright, states
"Libraries are essential! Lifeblood of civilisation." Vivian French (25th January 2018)

Please join this campaign and help save all those hard-working librarians and support staff who keep our libraries going and provide an excellent service throughout the borough.

WE WANT NO MORE OUTSOURCING!
WE WANT NO MORE COMMUNITY MANAGED LIBRARIES!
WE WANT NO MORE JOB LOSSES!
WE WANT TO HELP TO KEEP OUR LIBRARIAN'S JOB'S SAFE!

Thank you.

Akuba (Grace Quansah)


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