Monday, 25 July 2016 16:19

Argyll & Bute Librarian Cuts

Written by

Julie McKenzie - SNP Councillor for Oban North and Lorn - Ward 5
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I'd like to clear up some misinformation that is circulating regarding the decision making process behind cuts to school librarians positions.

The SNP budget proposal put forward at the budget meeting in February did not include these cuts. The SNP Councillors in Argyll and Bute did not vote for these cuts. There are also other non party affiliated Councillors who did not vote for these cuts.
The budget that was implemented and is currently operational, that included cutting librarian posts, was that of the Tory/LibDem/ independent ruling administration.
The Council standing orders state that a Council decision cannot be revisited for six months once taken unless there has been a material change. (Full text copied below)
We are now reaching the end of that six month period and most folk will be well aware of the growing public concern as the cut to librarians posts becomes a harsh reality. I have been receiving much representation on this issue for a number of months, particularly from our island communities, workers affected and also authors who have been contacted by the public. I have also recently been contacted by concerned pupils from Oban High School who are directly affected by this cut and I plan to meet up with them to gain their take on this following the school holiday.
The SNP group position on this issue remains unchanged. SNP Councillors are completely opposed to the removal of school librarians in Argyll and Bute and fully appreciate the enormous value and benefit that a qualified librarian adds to the education of children in our schools.
The fact remains that currently there seems to be no political will amongst the Administration Councillors who took this ill conceived decision, to revisit this cut to jobs and service.
The ruling Administration make up the largest group on the Council and ultimately decisions taken by them come down to a numbers game. Even when the SNP group and non party affiliated colleagues come together to oppose issues such as this, we are not large enough in number to make a difference, as we simply get outnumbered and voted down by Administration Councillors.
I've attached a list of the Councillors who voted for these cuts below as well as the text from the standing orders relating to Council decisions.
No motion which seeks to alter or revoke a decision of the Council or has that effect will be considered within a period of 6 months of the original decision.
However, it will be competent to review a decision before the end of the 6 month period, provided –That notice has been given on the agenda that the previous decision may be altered or revoked, unless it is inherent in the terms of a report of or minute of a Committee submitted to the Council; and
The Provost is satisfied that a material change of circumstances has occurred. This means that the Provost must decide first whether there has been a new development which has a bearing on the original decision or that some important piece of information was not available when the original decision was made.
Secondly, the Provost must decide whether this change is material, which means that if the change had taken place before the Council took their decision, or they had known all the facts on which the decision was based, the change of circumstances would have influenced their judgement and they might reasonably have taken a different decision"