Thursday 6 January 2011

Save Barnets Library Campaign - Proof Barnet are breaking their own rules

Here are two email. The first is from Barnet Council confirming that the Library petition is being considered as part of the official consultation process. The second is saying that the petition cannot be displayed for signature in libraries, as it is not part of the official consultation process.

The first email from Barnet Council

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, December 23, 2010 2:50 PM
Subject: Library Service Petition

Dear Mr Tichborne
I have been asked to let you know that the petition you have sent in on the Library Service will be submitted to Cabinet when it receives the report on the Strategic Library Review which it initiated back in September.
At present it is intended that Cabinet will consider the matter at their meeting on 29 March 2011.
Yours sincerely
Nick Musgrove
Senior Democratic Services Officer, Corporate Governance Directorate
London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8359 2024
Barnet Online:

The second email from Barnet Council and my response

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2011 6:16 PM
Subject: Re: Barnet Council Library Closure program

Dear Tom,
I have no intention of shooting the messenger, so please take any criticisms as being of the organsiation rather than yourself.
Democracy and enagement with the public only works when it is a two way process. Barnet Council announced a "library review" and a consultation process. Over 4,000 people who we have engaged on street stalls and via an on-line petition felts strongly enough about the process to sign the petition. This is approx 3 times as many as have so far participated in the rather rigged consultation Barnet Council has engaged in.
By refusing to allow the petition, which has been submitted to the consultation and ACCEPTED as part of the process (this was confirmed by Barnet Council in an email to me) you are discriminating against the many library users who do not have access to a  street stall.
I have attached confirmation from Barnet Council that the petition has been accepted as part of the FORMAL review for debate by cabinet on 29th March.
As such, I can see no justification using the reasons given in your response. As such I ask you to immediately review your decision as it is clearly incorrect and would be neither democratic or even within the parameters set by yourself. I look forward to your response ASAP as we have teams ready to distribute the petition.
It strikes me that the left arm does not know what the right arm is doing at Barnet Council.
Roger Tichborne
Save Barnet Libraries campaign
----- Original Message -----
From: Pike, Tom
Sent: Thursday, January 06, 2011 9:39 AM
Subject: FW: Barnet Council Library Closure program

Dear Mr Tichbourne,

I have been asked to respond to your email as the points you raise relate to operational issues within the library service.

Libraries carry formal consultation by the council and appropriate public sector partners.  We do not carry any campaign material by third parties.  This is a long-standing position regarding third party campaigning and petitioning in libraries, not specific to any individual campaign.  

This position is taken to help ensure that the service and officers are seen as impartial by all groups, as part of our duty to give efficient, courteous and impartial service delivery to all groups and individuals.

The council has carried out an extensive consultation exercise to help understand and assess the needs of library users, those who don't currently use libraries, and those who are disconnected from use of libraries.  The consultation aimed to consider areas where library services can be improved, understand the priorities of library users and non-users, listen to views on the future role of the library service, and hear ideas and suggestions on how services could be provided more effectively or at lower cost.

The consultation exercise has received 1,700 detailed responses, and almost 50 consultation activities have been completed with different groups and communities across Barnet to gain an in-depth understanding of different needs and views.    This information can be used to help develop a strategy for coming years to meet local needs, and provide options for the council to consider.
The council does provide a process for petitions to be received, considered and responded to by the council.  Information on procedures to register a petition is available via the council website:
Kind regards


Tom Pike
Head of Libraries, Museums and Local Studies London Borough of Barnet, North London Business Park, Oakleigh Road South, London N11 1NP
Tel: 020 8359 7058
Barnet Online:
P please consider the environment - do you really need to print this email?

From: Roger Tichborne []
Sent: 03 January 2011 12:53
To: Walkley, Nick; Hillan, Cllr Lynne Conservative; Harper, Cllr Andrew Conservative; Rams, Cllr Robert Conservative
Cc: Moore, Cllr Alison Labour; Cohen, Cllr Jack Liberal Democrat; Alex Hayes;
Subject: Barnet Council Library Closure program

Dear Mr Walkley, Councillor Rams, Councillor Harper, Councillor Hillan,

I am not sure which one of you is responsible for this, therefore I have copied all of you into the email. Apologies if this is not within your your remit.

As you know I am organising a campaign to save Barnet Councils Libraries from closure and selling off. Many people have commented to me that the petition we have organised should be available to sign at local libraries. We have asked at several libraries and told that the staff have been instructed to not allow the petition to be displayed for signature within the local libraries. I have asked who made this decision and have not been given an answer.

It would seem that the most logical place to leave the petition is at the libraries. Not displaying it at the libraries amounts to discrimintation against the many people who wish to sign it and do not have access to the stalls we've run or the online version. I would suggest that this would also give yoruselves a truer view of the strength of public support towards the retention of the service. I am therefore directly asking permission from whoever is responsible to allow the petition to be available for signature within all of Barnets libraries.

I would appreciate an answer ASAP so that we can facilitate getting the petition delivered for signature ASAP.


Roger Tichborne

Save Barnets Libraries Campaign