Tag Archives: camden

Public libraries: the final cut?

Camden Council have apologised to a self-employed dress-maker for not lending her a pair of scissors:

Lorna Watts, 26, a self-employed dressmaker, was turned down at Holborn Library in central London.

She said: “It’s ridiculous – public libraries are supposed to be supportive of small businesses.”

A spokeswoman for Camden Council, which runs the library, has apologised and said it would investigate the incident.

Ms Watts, from Islington, north London, said: “I asked why I couldn’t borrow a pair of scissors and she said, ‘they are sharp, you might stab me’.

“I then asked to borrow a guillotine to cut up my leaflets but she refused again – because she said I could hit her over the head with it!”

She added: “It’s absurd – there are plenty of heavy books I could have hit her with if I wanted to.

Am I the only one who thinks that not only was Camden right not to lend Ms Watts but that she should indeed be kept away from sharp implements in future? What is a self-employed dress-maker doing not owning any scissors? I’m not an expert in dress-making but don’t scissors play a fairly central role? Is that not why she can buy a pair of scissors and, being self-employed, not pay any tax on them?

I’m curious about how far this policy of libraries having to support small businesses is going to go. Perhaps small businesses should be allowed to take up a corner of the library to sell their wares? Maybe they should start buying cars, on the off chance that a small businessman might need to borrow one? I look forward to seeing Camden’s new policy with great interest.

Bin Spin

Today has clearly ‘bin’ a rubbish news day. The Daily Mail are crusading to stop councils from moving to fortnightly collections. Outgoing leader of the LGA and Tory Peer Gideon Sandy Bruce-Lockhart has been defending fortnightly collections (and can I take a moment to reflect on the wonderful name that is “Doretta Cocks”?).

Meanwhile, in bloggerland, Ryan Cullen has been pointing out that moves to fortnightly collection can lead to improved hygiene, while Iain Dale has been moaning about those perfidious Lib Dems taking opportunistic policy positions from one council to the next on the issue.

Unfortunately, he does have a bit of a point reading Camden Lib Dems’ rather po-faced response to the issue:

“Labour run councils such as Reading, Corby and Barnsley have moved to bi-weekly collections and the Labour Party in inner city areas like Liverpool is campaigning for such a change. I challenge Labour’s Environment Spokesperson Cllr Alison McGovern to state that she would not bring in such plans in Southwark if they were in charge.”

“Our success in increasing recycling rates in Southwark has meant that there is less waste to be collected each week. But we are not proposing to wait until bins are full before we will collect them. We believe that will lead to more mess on our streets and will raise concerns about hygiene and vermin.”

Er, maybe that’s true, but pioneering Lib Dem councils like Eastleigh were leading the way years ago and have just been lionised on our last PEB on the environment.

There is certainly a case that fortnightly collections will suit some areas better than others. Inner London, in particular, has a bit of a vermin problem and thus councils should certainly look before they leap on this policy (although I really can’t see how a rat can climb into a wheelie bin unless it is provided with some pretty impressive abseiling equipment and has been taking anabolic steroids for six months). But Camden’s press release has completely over-egged the issue by implying it is an evil Labour policy when it certainly is not.

It’s fair enough that Camden Lib Dems have the right to adopt a policy that best suits Camden, but this press release is packed full of ammunition for our rival parties to lob at us in any local authority where fortnightly collections are being considered. By insinuating that Labour councils are all the same, they are implying that Lib Dem councils have to be also, and that we should all go along with what suits Camden. Thanks a bunch.