Cambridgeshire residents should be seriously concerned that access to an important part of their library service now depends on their ability to pay ('Dismay at £1 library charge', Cambridge News, 8 June). The new reservation charge will be a disproportionate blow to, among other groups, those of us who don't live in easy reach of the county's urban libraries and rely on reservations to get the books we need at smaller ones. We can be certain that use of these libraries will fall as a result. And we can expect that falling usage will be given as a reason to close yet more libraries in a future round of austerity cuts.
The reservation charge is an unpleasant surprise. It was rejected in the County Council's 2015/16 business plan because it 'could disadvantage ... more rural and deprived areas of the county' (page 322); it is nowhere mentioned in the 2016/17 plan approved in February, whose already harsh austerity measures the Cambridge People's Assembly protested at the time (Cambridge News, 15 and 17 February). Mean, unfair, and corrosive, it is not the worst of the measures it joins, but it points to a battle that we can win. This group is now campaigning with library users for the Council to drop completely the new charge, beginning with a petition which I urge readers please to sign.
Secretary, Cambridge People's Assembly Against Austerity
The letter above was printed in the Cambridge News on 24 June 2016, and is republished here with the kind permission of the newspaper.