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?