Hillingdon redux

There are still questions over this. The role of Starbucks for one.

Tim Coates  ‘should not and could not’ answer questions on the development of a public library service, beyond the council announcement.

Update: Tim has contacted me and explained why he cannot comment, and I accept he has a good reason. He cannot comment as yet.

There is very little about it all on the council site.

There may well be good reasons for this, but I wonder if it’s all down to that wonderful phrase ‘commercially sensitive.’ And the general tendency of politicians to assure us that all is well and they know best.

The way many PFI schemes have panned out does not instil confidence in the involvement of private companies in public service, and I for one would like a little more openness in this area. Just what do Starbucks get out of this? And, as someone else asked, just how much of the scheme depends on Starbucks revenue?

There is also the issue of cutting staff redeployment and the potential loss of quality outreach. Many people stigmatise outreach, but in terms of establishing the library in the community it is vital. Until schools all have librarians, there is a need for public librarians to go to schools; and even if all schools had librarians it’d be useful.

I wish Hillingdon well still, but it will be interesting to see if services improve- always assuming they were so awful- or if we get some sort of Waterstones light.

And how were the libraries doing before this plan? Will we get an honest comparison?

Most fundamentally, were the people of Hillingdon consulted?  If so, where is the methodology and results?

If it all goes wrong, who is going to be meaningfully held accountable? Tim Coates? The councillors, who may have moved on?

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4 Responses to Hillingdon redux

  1. Miriam Palfrey says:

    So who’s idea was getting rid of all professional staff? The council or Mr Coates?

    Ironically I recall agruing about the value of professional librarians with him in the past and being told “people don’t care if the person serving their coffee is called a barrista or a waitress”… looks like the comparason was somethign of a presication in tisi case.

  2. Pete says:

    To be honest there is nothing in the public domain yet regarding staff cuts, or redeployment.

  3. Miriam Palfrey says:

    How much of the savings he is taking credit for will come from staff cuts?

    Library staff are (apparently) aware of the cuts and the fact that the topic of staffing is so carefully avoided in press releases makes it a valid question to raise in public.

    Who can say that Mr Coates publically expressed opinion of professional staff didn’t influence the decision of council members who obviously admired his other views so much that they hired him as a consultant.

    If the Council already had fixed ideas why did they waste money on a consultant in the first place? They could have saved several thousnd pounds right there!

  4. Pete says:

    It is interesting how much has been omitted from publicity. And the idea of not needing professional library staff is not the sole province of Tim Coates; and if a council can save money it will. It evidently feels services won’t suffer as they’ll have more books and some nice chairs; all good things, but I think people will soon realise they do not a library make.

    I do not know if Tim Coates was paid for his work; if so it should be a matter of public record, and he would therefore be in some way accountable for what happens- good or bad.

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