Isle of Man News - POSTED Mon 20-02-2012

Prospect Hits Back At Library Cuts

by Angela Moffatt

Prospect, one of the trade unions whose members have been hit by the recently announced cuts to education have hit back at the Education Minister’s recent remarks over nursery and library closures.  The comments come, as the union and members of the public campaign to keep the libraries open.

Prospect members, were amongst members of staff at the Department who were informed on Thursday 16 February that their services were being shut.  Staff in the library services broke down in tears at the news that services, which provide a vital link to the elderly, housebound, disabled and least privileged in Manx society, would go forever.

Angela Moffatt, Negotiations Officer for Prospect stated:

“It was incredibly emotional.  You have groups of people absolutely relying on the family and mobile library who have little else.  Local schools regularly use the facilities and there is heavy use for both services.  There’s a disproportionate impact on women, children and vulnerable adults – it’s women by and large out of work, and women, children & the vulnerable losing the service provision.

We were emphatically told by the Department that the decision has not been made on how much the services are used, or who is using them.  The department has just spent £100K on a new mobile library – this illustrates how completely shambolic these decisions are.  The pupil/teacher ratio on the island, with previous cuts to teaching jobs, is already at a worrying level – now we further cut quality by getting rid of pre-school education and library support.  How is this good long term for the island or the economy?

Most feedback we are getting is from people saying this is NOT what you cut first.  Nursery and libraries are not where you start making cuts.  People are saying that the Council of Ministers has got this wrong.  They need to help the Department of Education sustain services, and make the savings elsewhere.  The Council of Ministers could do that but are choosing not to.  These cuts are sad but NOT inevitable when the savings could be forced in less priority project areas.  Just ask the public – they will tell you where the cuts should be!

Once these services are gone, they are gone forever.  You can’t plug the gap with vouchers and you can’t get them back.”

Members of the public have set up an online petition to save the library services http://www.petitionbuzz.com/petitions/iomfamilylibrary.

2 Facebook groups have been created to save the libraries including one by trade unions - https://www.facebook.com/groups/364639590222322/#!/groups/364639590222322/?notif_t=group_r2j

Paper petitions can be obtained by emailing goa@manx.net

-Ends-

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