Contact with Councillors and MP :    2008 - 2013



To the Cabinet Member for Highways, Strategic Transport and Leisure

"Can you please read out loud to assembled councillors, officers and members of the public the five (5) Walcot Library book issue stats on the chart (provided).   Please click here  to view the chart

And, without omitting to remind us of Walcot Library volunteers' success as a 'community centre', justify why the cabinet's Libraries Strategy - in light of Walcot's performance as a 'library' - proposes the use of more volunteers and increased community involvement in the Borough's other smaller libraries, with comparable levels of Library Service support and oversight?

Thank you."



Thank you for your question

It is important to remember that without volunteers stepping forward to work with the Council, Walcot Library would have closed in 2009. Therefore, instead of comparing the books issued now with historical data, you should measure against a benchmark of zero, which would have been the position without the community shop.

The involvement of volunteers has enabled the local community to continue access to the Library services in Walcot, and its presence means that a Library will now be included in the Sussex Square regeneration scheme. The positive news is that, as part of this scheme, it is expected that the new Library facilities will open for the local community in 2015.

Community and volunteer involvement in Libraries can take many different forms, which the draft updated Library Strategy reflects. For example, the draft Strategy proposes that the Council could increasingly work with community groups, Friends groups and local businesses, explore opportunities for co-location, and develop the role and number of individual volunteers. Community engagement in the Borough's Libraries is seen as very important for the future sustainability of a high quality service in view of the very challenging financial situation we face.


Preliminary comment on the Answer, above :

I am astonished that the Lead Member claims that a "benchmark of zero" should be set when a statutory library is manned by volunteers and that no reference to historical data should be made when measuring its performance.


To the Cabinet Member for Leisure and Strategic Transport

"Will you reconsider the arithmetic you are applying to create Libraries Savings? Will you commit to ensuring that the smaller libraries are not closed by stealth, but are sustainable - treated fairly with regard to opening hours and staff ?

It is my view that the cuts in opening hours to be applied to smaller, local, accessible libraries are *disproportionate*

The following small 3 examples of small libraries. These already start out from a VERY low baseline of opening hours / staffed hours :

Even Swindon it seems is open only 10 hours per week anyway.
Penhill (currently 19 - cut to 10 hrs) A cut of 9 hours
Old Town (currently 18 staffed hrs - cut to 10 hrs) A cut of 8 hours

Not so long ago, Swindon Council wanted to close all the smaller libraries or hand them over to volunteers. These proposals will close them *by stealth* !

It is a known fact that further savings will be necessary next year. I foresee that Councillors will then claim that footfall or borrowings have reduced at these libraries.
But that will be as a direct result of any reduction in their already miserly opening hours and paid frontline staff.

The small libraries, including Old Town and Penhill will have utterly inadequate opening hours and staffing - a cut of almost 50% - that will lead to their demise. We shall fight that!

Thank you."



Chief Librarian

Please click   here  to read Swindon Chief Librarian's e-mail to Shirley of 6th February, with detailed clarification of the proposed cuts

The Cabinet Member's response to Question:

"Thank you for your questions. The Council has no policy to close libraries at this time. We have more libraries per thousand of population than many equivalent local authorities. The Council will maintain a modern, adequate library service for the whole Borough. Regardless of the fact that the Council needs to save £15m in this budget and a further £15m the following year, it is the Administration's duty to keep all services under review and take into account the changing needs of the whole population."


Shaun Smith of Swindon's Library Service responded on 18th January to my query about the proposed 15% cut to the Book Fund.

Please click here  to read the article which alerted us in the Swindon Advertiser on 11th January 2012

Shaun confirms in his response that he has undertaken work, using CIPFA statistics, to compare Swindon’s spending on books with other library authorities in our area and nationally.

His conclusions are as follows :

"The results show us to compare favourably with our neighbouring authorities and with the other English unitary authorities in the financial year 2010/11

"For example, Swindon’s expenditure per 1000 population on all library materials in 2010/11 was £2,222.  This was the 6th highest figure of the 43 English unitary authorities listed and compares favourably to our neighbours in Oxfordshire (£2194), Wiltshire (£1174), Gloucestershire (£731) Somerset (£932) and West Berkshire (£1562)

"Of course, if we reduce our stock fund by 15% as proposed, the overall figure per 1000 population will also fall (to £1889) but this figure would still compare favourably with other authorities, and would maintain Swindon’s position as one of the higher spending library authorities on books per capita, especially as many other authorities are also proposing cuts to their stock funds.

"This position has been achieved by enhancing and protecting the stock fund over a long period of time – this is the first reduction in the stock fund for many years, and we feel that we can maintain the quality of stock provided by ensuring that the stock we do have is effectively managed and circulated to ensure maximum use and value for money."

[ Shaun attached more detailed figures showing expenditure per 1000 population for different categories of stock for 2010/11.  Send us an e-mail if you wish to receive these.  He invites us to contact him if we have any queries. ]


Your Petition to 'Save Swindon's Community Libraries'was formally received by the Council on Thursday, 23rd September

Please Click here to read Shirley's address to the Councillors about the Petition

here  to read : Shirley Burnham's letter to Mayor and Councillors : 24th September
here  to read : Swindon Advertiser : 'Letter from Sherry Waldon' : 28th September and   here  to read : 'Mayor Apologises to Elderly Woman after "Humiliating"
Meeting' : 30th September


Thanks to all who came to public exhibition of the Plans in the Arts Centre on 26th May.
If you did not submit your comments on the day, please comment to Allyson Jordan of the Library Service.   Contact Allyson Jordan

Please click here  to read the List of Improvements envisaged for our library, published by the Library Service (you can also comment on these).

Click here  to see the dimensions of the proposed 'flexible space' library for Old Town and read answers to queries, from Swindon's Planning Department.   To comment, please contact Allyson Jordan of the Library Service   Contact Allyson Jordan


Please click  here  to read the text of Justin Tomlinson's speech when opening the Westminster Hall 'Libraries Debate' and access a video link to the Debate on iPlayer : 7th September

OLD TOWN & LAWN AREA PANEL : 11th March 2010
Councillor Mattock re. Old Town Library

Please Click   here to read what Councillor Mattock said about the future of Old Town Library at the Panel Meeting on 11th March 2010


Please click  here to access the Council's agenda for this meeting.
Please click :
here to read Questions put to the Committee and a comment on the meeting.


Please click  here to access the Council's "agenda and document pack" for this meeting.
Please click :
here to read Shirley B's question to the Committee.
here to read what Terry King had to say.

The matters discussed seemed not to include an overview of specifics of the ERS Report; this was surprising in light of it being the main Agenda item. There were, however, some interesting contributions and remarks from Councillors S Pajak, D Heenan and the Chair.

CABINET : 22nd July 2009  (and 30th July email from Cllr Foley) :

Please click :-
 here to read the outcome of the Cabinet's vote and  here to read Councillor Foley's  email to Shirley of 30th July.
 here   to read Sherry Waldon's Questions to Cabinet and
 here   to read Margaret Cooney's Question.
 here   to read Shirley's Question and  here   for her Statement to Open Forum;
 here   to read Martha Parry's Question to Cabinet on behalf of the Swindon Federation
            of Community Organisations, and
 here   to read Terry King's Question (Secretary, The Old Town Group) and
 here to read what Mary Ratcliffe said at Open Forum

BARBARA FOLLETT MP, Minister for Culture & Tourism, WRITES TO
ANNE SNELGROVE MP : 4th August and 2nd July 2009

Please Click   here to read the Minister's letter to Anne Snelgrove MP, dated 4th August,  and   here to read her letter to Anne Snelgrove, of 2nd July.

OPEN FORUM and CABINET : 10th June 2009
Open Forum Statement, Question, Supplementary Question and Responses

Please click  here to see Shirley's Statement to Open Forum   and  here  for her Questions to Cabinet and the responses : on 10th June 2009

Anne Snelgrove MP attacks Council cuts at

Please Click  here   to read Anne Snelgrove's question at PMQ's on 6th May and the Prime Minister's response : Swindon Advertiser : 7th May

COUNCIL MEETING : 30th April 2009
Public Question Time :

Please click  here to see Shirley's Question and Supplementary Question at Public Question Time and the responses : 30th April 2009

OPEN FORUM and CABINET : 11 March 2009
Open Forum Statement, Question and the Leader's Responses

Please click  here to see Shirley's Statement to Open Forum, her Question
and the responses from Councillor Bluh on 11th March 2009

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE : 16th February 2009

Scrutiny Committee looked at the business conducted at Cabinet on 11th February.   Please click  here for Shirley's question to Scrutiny, the Answer and some comments from Councillor Nick Martin noted during the meeting.

OPEN FORUM and CABINET : 11th February 2009

Please click  here  to see the Question, Supplementary Question and Answers
and  here  to read Shirley's Statement to Open Forum

LETTERS from ANNE SNELGROVE MP   26th  and  7th Jan 2009

Please click  here to read Anne's letter sent on 26th January to the Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport

and  here to read Anne's letter sent on 26th January to Angela Eagle MP

Please click  here to read Anne's letter to Shirley B, dated 7th January

QUESTIONS to CABINET  21 January 2009

Please click  here to see Shirley's Question, her Supplementary Question and the Written and Verbal Answers from Councillors on 21st January 2009

and  here  to read her Statement to Open Forum

QUESTIONS to COUNCIL  15 January 2009

Please click  here to see Shirley's Question, her Supplementary Question
and the Written and Verbal Answers from Councillors on 15th January 2009


A letter was sent to all Councillors by post and by e-mail, urging them to vote "No" or abstain when asked to agree to proposals for 'volunteers or closure' for Old Town Library.

Please click  here to read the letter sent on 24th December

An E-MAIL from DORSET COUNTY COUNCIL : 12 December 2008

We have made inquiries to Dorset's Library Service about the 'Dorset model', cited by our Library Service officials and Councillors to support their proposals. This is Dorset's reply.

Please click  here to read Dorset's response
Please click  here   to read Mike Chaney's Message from Puddletown, Dorset

OPEN FORUM and CABINET : 10 December 2008

Please click  here  to see the Question and Answer, and  here  to read the
Statement to Open Forum