West Berkshire Council proposed £730,000 cuts to Library services in order to meet the budgets imposed by the Conservatives last week. As we can see from the LISU’s UK Public And Academic Library Statistics (pdf) library services and funding has been on a downward trajectory for the entire period this report covers which ultimately results in lower income from the Libraries themselves reinforcing the downward spiral. Coupled with the massive cuts on the table the 153,800 odd residents of West Berkshire would end up with just one single library in operation probably with reduced hours. The proposal even made it into Private Eye (Eye 1412 p35).. Services getting the boot would include computer access, mobile libraries, adult education and community groups will be force to find new premises, so the unintended consequences could be far reaching.

A bad thing, most people would consider. Could it really be necessary given the “Austerity” being peddled by Westminister? Who knows?
Clearly not the great and good leading all these cuts. West Berks is also the home to Vodafone, who if you are not aware, are a global corporation generating literally billions in cash each year (for instance: it costs nothing for Vodafone to send and deliver a text message yet they sell them to the public for 12p each..) and use arcane free movement of capital rules end up paying virtually no tax on that massive profit in the territories where it was generated.

You have to wonder whether they have thought this all through; pay less corporation tax and the government has less money to spend, so councils get their budgets cut and accordingly make sacrifices to the public services they offer; the public, at the bottom of the pile are will naturally adjust to reflect those changes, the number of people who cannot read and write will increase, libraries will decline further. Vodafone will find they have to spend more money on educating their locally recruited employees, the council will run out of services to cut (cut the cutters?) and everyone will be wondering were all the money went.

Well here’s a clue: Last September those cheeky chaps on West Berkshire Council agreed to increase their own basic allowances by 16.5%, all in it together, eh guys? And thats not even taking into account the pay structure for the un-elected council employees, as this document states the highest renumeration package offered is £138,418 (£175k berfore tax) and there are a further 3 employees on £100k plus after tax… Money well spent. Big shout out goes to Mr Mark Edwards the Head of Highways and Transport who’s copping a huge wedge despite clearly having no idea what he’s up to. Anyway between those dudes and their best chum Jeroen Hoencamp over at Vodafone HQ, they could cover that £730,00 on an annual basis without breaking a sweat – they probably each have a second home costing more than that.

Our millionaire MP Richard Benyon got so incensed about the issue he arose in PMQ’s today (2nd March 2016) and demanded from David Cameron:

Does the Prime Minister agree that the fishing industry is better off in a reformed EU.

Hang on Benyon, you’re not putting your role as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Natural Environment and Fisheries, ahead of doing your job for your constituents are you?

On a side note the UK are currently investing £25 million pounds into building a prison in Jamaica so there is definitely money in the kitty, this ‘Austerity’ bollocks isn’t fooling anyone anymore.