Written by Adam Harmsworth, Socialist Party member and TUSC councillor candidate for Earlsdon Ward.
Thanks to Tory austerity passed on by the Labour council, Coventry’s libraries have faced closures, staff cuts, opening time cuts, funding cuts. Earlsdon library is one that had its funding cut, and Socialist Party members were part of the protests battling for it to remain open and fully funded.
So. I’m quite surprised by the audacity of Labour’s Earlsdon leaflet, calling the library a ‘vital resource’ which has ‘done our community proud’.
I agree entirely, I just… wonder why a vital resource was subject to cuts and repeatedly had its future threatened over the past few years, by Labour?
The leaflet continues “Your local Labour team is focused on supporting the trustees”. Let’s remind Coventry Labour councillors of their record.
To quote from Coventry Telegraph directly: “In 2016 Coventry Council had given Earlsdon residents the option of running their own library voluntarily, or seeing it permanently shut” [read the article yourself here]
Then in July 2018 [yes less than three years ago!] the library nearly closed because the council demanded the former trustees cough up to lease the building back from the council! Even when a new group of volunteers got an agreement to keep things going, the article points out the severe lack of staffing and limited opening hours.
Sarah Smith, co-founder & full-time campaigner for Save Coventry Libraries, is TUSC candidate for Woodlands Ward for the 3rd time and has said the following:
“In January 2015, Coventry city council announced they were going to close every Library in Coventry.
Soon after this save Coventry Libraries campaign was formed by Sarah Smith, Nicki Downes & Jane Nellist. Since 2015, Save Coventry Libraries has been campaigning to save Libraries in Coventry. Unfortunately, the mobile service was scrapped. Arena Park Library was closed Earlsdon, Finham & Cheylesmore Libraries have been handed over to volunteers.
When Earlsdon library was handed over to volunteers, it was closed continually for about a year, when it did open it was only open a few hours on a weekday, also lacked stock. The government nor local Council have done research into the impact or sustainability of Libraries run by volunteers/ community groups. As a Campaigner I have conducted my own research & found the average lifespan of a volunteer/community group led Libraries are around 18 months.
Of course some break the model but almost all are closed for long periods, lack stock & have safeguarding concerns for example the volunteers having to work alone & have to wear a rape alarm. Save Coventry Libraries will campaign not only save Libraries but its Librarians.”
Its bare-faced hypocrisy from the council.
Lets put it simply – Coventry Labour council doesn’t really care about Earlsdon library. Or any of the libraries they’ve slashed funding to while keeping tens of millions of pounds in reserves and doing nothing to oppose the cuts from central government.
That’s exactly why anti-cuts campaigners are standing in the May council election under the TUSC banner.
There might not be any major cuts this year, but the council refuses to reverse the damage that has been done. And won’t do anything to prevent more cuts.
We don’t need empty platitudes and already-broken promises for our public services, we need political action to push back the decade of cruel austerity.
As our election leaflet says:
“This election is a chance to elect councillors who’ll take the fight to the Tories and bosses.
Falsely, Labour councils pretend they have no choice but to make cuts demanded by government.
Unlike Tory-lite Labour councillors, socialist councillors will resist austerity rather than pass on cuts.
We’d be a voice for local people against austerity, greedy landlords, privatisation and closures.
If councils put up a fight, setting no cuts budgets, they could force yet another Tory U-turn and win the funding our communities desperately need.
Working people need a voice, a party of our own. The Socialist Party is part of the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) set up to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists to stand together against the pro-austerity establishment parties. It is a beginning – a step towards the kind of party we need to deliver a socialist alternative to austerity.“