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To: Cambridgeshire County Council

Don't privatise the third floor of Cambridge Central Library

CD
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Campaign created by
Claire Dylan

UPDATE - 29/06/15 - We did it! At last Friday’s Special Meeting an amendment was passed to stop all work on the scheme to privatise the library.

We would like to thank all the individuals and organisations that supported us along the way: Cllrs Ashwood, Scutt and Taylor, 38 Degrees staff, Unison, Unite, Cambridge People’s Assembly, the Cambridge and District Trades Council, the Library Campaign, Voices for the Library, and many others. Most of all, our most sincere thanks to all of you: for signing the petition, for telling others about the campaign, for writing to your councillors, for coming to public meetings and much more. We did this together and this victory belongs to all of us.

Don't privatise the third floor of Cambridge Central Library

We request that Cambridgeshire County Council rethink its proposal to partner with a multinational group with a history of unethical business practices to privatise the third floor of Cambridge Central Library, robbing the community of valued public space which is accessible to all.

Why is this important?

Cambridge Central Library is one of the busiest public libraries in the UK, and its third floor currently houses a local studies collection, public computers, meeting rooms available to local groups at affordable community rates, and a popular cafe. Cambridgeshire County Council have recently proposed to cede much of this space to a multinational corporation named Kora (part of the Regus Group), which would use it to build a "Library Enterprise Centre" in partnership with the Council.

Although the report detailing the proposal claims that this project will "support individual employment prospects and the growth of small local businesses", such support would be limited to those who could afford to pay for it. Libraries were founded on the principle of equal access for all, and retaining this principle is crucial to their continued role as levellers of inequality. We do not believe that a for-profit corporation can do the public sector's job without harming the principles of social provision and community spirit embodied by libraries.

Additionally, UNISON Cambridgeshire County Branch have raised concerns about the Regus Group's history of unethical business practices, such as a 2008 relocation to Luxembourg to avoid paying taxes in the United Kingdom or a 2010 case of profiteering described by the British Property Federation as a “cynical move”. We do not want to see the public sector enter a partnership with a company with this kind of history.

We urge Cambridgeshire County Council to consider alternative proposals that will retain the library's community focus, and we do not believe this to be incompatible with financially viable solutions. The proposal report acknowledges that there are alternative options that might "respond to community demand and be installed at lower cost". As members of the community the library serves, we demand that these be adequately explored before valuable community resources are lost for good.

Cambridge

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Reasons for signing

  • Libraries are part of our cultural legacy. People with principles of public education and accessibility (including 'leaders' who believed in something other than making money) invested in them and supported them. And a lot of public money has been spent on the Central Library. This is vandalism.
  • repayment to a friend
  • Pretty obvious really - public libraries are public and precious. This one is heavily used by young people in particular, who already have few places to study and just be that don't cost. This is a space for the common good and part of an historic and very important tradition. Cambridge would be shamed.

Updates

2017-05-20 17:16:06 +0100
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Petition is successful with 3,911 signatures

2016-06-10 11:25:10 +0100
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Petition is successful with 3,908 signatures

2015-06-29 12:02:04 +0100
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Petition is successful with 3,896 signatures

2015-03-20 04:13:42 +0000

1,000 signatures reached

2015-03-18 21:34:28 +0000

500 signatures reached

2015-03-17 17:28:44 +0000

100 signatures reached

2015-03-17 11:37:47 +0000

50 signatures reached

2015-03-17 08:47:06 +0000

25 signatures reached

2015-03-17 05:21:53 +0000

10 signatures reached