COLUMN: Derbyshire County Council Leader Anne Western hits out at Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister appeared on regional TV last week and used the opportunity to have a go at Derbyshire.
Derbyshire Labour group leader Anne Western.Derbyshire Labour group leader Anne Western.
Derbyshire Labour group leader Anne Western.

Yet again, we saw David Cameron washing his hands of any responsibility that the cuts to the council are causing.

Was he not listening to George Osborne at the Tory Party Conference when he announced £25billion more cuts to come?

He went on to say that we should do what his county, Oxfordshire, is doing and use volunteers to keep the libraries open.

So, imagine my surprise when, the very next day I saw this headline in the national press; “Sheffield libraries row: government may intervene over volunteer takeover” (Guardian, 8 October).

It appears that Sheffield, planning to do precisely what Oxfordshire did and run half its libraries with volunteers, is being threatened with a public enquiry by Cameron’s own government ministers.

Sheffield MP, David Blunkett rightly described this as “breathtaking cheek”.

Did the Prime Minister not know about this when he was giving out duff advice? And why has Oxfordshire been allowed to do this, but not Sheffield?

Using volunteers to run public services is Cameron’s Big Society idea. But is it really what we want? There’s much more to running a library service than the ability to stack shelves in alphabetical order.

But just as we’ve seen the professionalism of teachers and doctors attacked by this government, now it’s librarians.

So rather than try to pretend it’s not happening, or keep blaming other people, it’s time the Prime Minister took responsibility.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that public service cuts are not really about managing the deficit. They are about pushing services to the brink and then privatising them.

Last year almost 70% of contracts for NHS services went to private firms, many of whom donate to Tory Party coffers.

Meanwhile, in what remains of the NHS, things are so bad that midwives are compelled to go on strike, for the first time ever.

Not good enough, Prime Minister.