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William Dixon Smith rightly bemoans the inadequacy of York Library’s book stock (September 17). But things will get much worse if our Library & Archives Services are privatised and transferred to a community benefit society (bencom).
The council will say that creating a bencom is not privatisation. Yet the result is the same: loss of direct democratic council control and public ownership, risk transferred to staff, staff terms and conditions eroded and a diminished Libraries & Archives service for the people of York.
The proposed bencom’s business case remains confidential (I have submitted a Freedom of Information request), but a financial plan has been published. It contains serious omissions, and its profit projections seem far-fetched, particularly in a period of economic recession. Significant financial liabilities are not addressed in the document.
If the privatisation of York Libraries & Archives proceeds, we will end up with a demoralised, de-professionalised, low-pay service increasingly dependent on untrained volunteers and ad hoc fundraising. Our libraries and the resources of our unique City Archive are too important to be privatised. They must remain in council ownership – our ownership.
My union, Unison, has produced a detailed analysis which shows that these privatisation proposals are completely unfit for purpose.
Colin Hall, Tower Street. York.
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