Nick Clegg: “No Liberal Democrat Council will close a single library this year”

The Independent reports on Nick Clegg’s appearance on BBC Breakfast yesterday in which he talked about the local elections and the national situation. The Liberal Democrat leader contrasted the difference in approach between Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour councillors with respect to Council budgets:

The deputy prime minister criticised “extravagant” spending on the “wrong thing” by Labour and Conservative councils.

“Above all, what you shouldn’t do when money is scarce, is waste money on extravagant or unnecessary expenditure – so the Conservative leader of the Leicestershire county council who spent over £200,000 on a chauffeur, or the Cotswold conservatives who spent thousands of pounds on a motivational magician whilst announcing cuts, or the Labour council in Derby who spent taxpayers’ money putting up billboards around the city blaming everything on the coalition while planning cuts to homelessness services,” he told BBC Breakfast.

“Those are examples which I think show that money by other parties is being spent on the wrong thing.

“I am proud, for instance, of the fact that Liberal Democrats, where we are in control, will not, unlike any of the other parties, be closing a single library during the course of this year.”

Mr Clegg said “difficult savings” would have to be made regardless of who was in power, but he said the Liberal Democrats were committed to ensuring the burden of austerity was spread fairly.

Those playing “stronger economy in a fairer society” bingo won’t be disappointed either, although there was a slight variation in the language. And there’s double points because he remembered to add in the bit about enabling everyone to get on in life, which gets missed too often.

I think that we are getting our message across that if you want a party that does two things – does the difficult job of repairing the economy to create a stronger economy, but does so as fairly as possible, building a stronger economy in a fairer society, so enabling everyone to get on in life – that is something that only the Liberal Democrats can deliver, because you can’t rely on the Conservatives to deliver fairness left to their own devices,” he said.

You certainly can’t rely on Labour to deliver a stronger economy left to their own devices.

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  • Andrew Martin 24th Apr '13 - 12:02pm

    Good to see ‘so enabling everyone to get on in life ‘ emphasised by LDV. This represents the sort of message I try to get across to people about what distinguishes our politics from that of the other two main parties and I’ll certainly be using it!

  • Here in Portsmouth, we had a modern, new library opened replacing a smaller one in 2011: 🙂

  • Alex Macfie 24th Apr '13 - 2:12pm

    So why aren’t we putting this in our party election broadcasts for local elections, rather than national taxation?

  • A Social Liberal 24th Apr '13 - 6:34pm

    Shaun Young

    You did read this bit didn’t you?

    “The site replaces a smaller library elsewhere in the city.”

    and this?

    “A council spokesman said the decision to take on the building was made before the Liberal Democrat-controlled authority announced £15m of cuts from its budget for the current financial year.”

  • Apparently more than 350,000 people turned to food banks  for help last year, almost triple the number who received food aid in the previous year and 100,000 more than anticipated, according to the UK’s biggest food crisis charity.

    Don’t close the libraries, let them eat books!

    Woohoo, way to go Coalition.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Apr '13 - 11:04pm

    Exactly Martin, it’s damn offensive when we spout out how great we are for saving libraries when we are cutting subsistence level income. Even tories are saying the government is increasing homelessness:

    Maybe they can sleep in the libraries after they have ate the books.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Apr '13 - 11:22pm

    Eaten not ate sorry.

  • @A Social Liberal – Yes, as you see in my comment I stated that it had replaced a smaller/older library!

    I would also like to point out, that the new library with its relocation has become part of the social hub of where it was moved too – Not just a library, but somewhere to stop and have a coffee when out shopping, during school holidays offering a range of interesting and informative things for parents and kids alike – What is important is that it has become part of the community!

    Money was also spent to upgrade and modernise a local community hall near to where I live, again it has become a place where people meet, toddlers groups are held, community groups meet – Is this also money spent in the wrong area?

    AND Yes, there were cuts to the budget, but tell me any authority that has not had to take these hard decisions?

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '13 - 8:00pm

    You don’t get it do you Shaun, shouting about how you have looked after the middle classes whilst throwing the poor onto the bonfire is pure elitism. The libraries should have been the first things to go.

  • >The libraries should have been the first things to go.

    Libraries have always been a great force for social mobility.
    No, you can’t eat books. But you can educate yourself to get a job that pays for food.
    You can access the internet for free in libraries if you can’t afford it at home.

    The miners of South Wales didn’t have much money in Victorian times, but they chose to scrimp and save their pennies to build institutes with libraries.
    Nye Bevan might have spent his life in a coal mine if it hadn’t been for a ‘stute library.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Apr '13 - 11:08pm

    Libraries may have been a great source of social mobility in 1984 but we are now in 2013 and have the internet and Amazon. Welfare cuts should have been the last resort.

  • Peter Watson 25th Apr '13 - 11:45pm

    @Cassie “Libraries have always been a great force for social mobility.”
    Have they? Are they still? How do you know?

  • “Libraries may have been a great source of social mobility in 1984 but we are now in 2013 and have the internet and Amazon. ”

    Libraries are a major source of access to the internet for those without it at home. Look in a library and you’ll see that the computers are always busy – less so people taking books off shelves.

  • Peter Watson 25th Apr '13 - 11:49pm

    And most importantly, even if libraries are a force for social mobility (rather than a place for middle-class people to save a few quid), how do we know that they are a cost-effective way to achieve this desirable goal?

  • Lib Dems used to say that their local councillors were uniquely independent of central party control, free to run their localities just the way they chose, free to make different decisions in different places.

    Now Clegg says that all Lib Dem councils are bound to do the same thing, and that for some reason, they are inherently more efficient than their opponents. That reason (if true) can only be rigid control from the national party at the centre.

    Bit of a 180 degree turn, isn’t it?

    Let’s console ourselves with the thought that it’s only propaganda, and that we don’t actually have central control over our local councillors!

  • David Allen – OTOH it might be that the collective principles that encourage people to join a party lead them to the same conclusion in the same circumstances.

  • @Cassie

    ” You can access the internet for free in libraries if you can’t afford it at home.”

    I’m afraid not Cassie. My local library allows one hour a day internet usage free of charge then it is charged at £1 per half an hour. So two hours a day internet usage is £10 per week, Monday to Friday.

    And print outs are 25p each.

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