A demonstration protesting at the proposed privatisation of Bromley’s 14 libraries and calling for them to remain council-controlled will be staged on Wednesday 19 July.
The protest, organised by Unite, the country’s largest union, comes as the Tory-controlled council’s executive meets to discuss awarding the libraries’ contract to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) – a social enterprise, that the union says, has a ‘tarnished’ reputation’.
The demo will be at Bromley Civic Centre (BR1 3UH) at 18.00 on 19 July as the executive meets at 19.00 to discuss the privatisation proposal which Unite said has been ‘cloaked in swathes of unnecessary and self-serving secrecy’.
Unite argues that the council, with a handsome £300 million tucked away in reserves, should keep the library service in-house as the best way to preserve and protect the library service for the borough’s 300,000 residents.
Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “Despite overwhelming public opposition, the council in its blinkered and secretive way is promoting the privatisation option without Bromley residents knowing the full financial facts and the future business plan.
“This is no way to run a democratic council, especially one that that has £300 million in reserves and could well-afford to keep the library service under local authority control.
“GLL has a tarnished reputation when it comes to running libraries in the London boroughs of Greenwich and Lambeth. It closed the mobile library service in Greenwich, despite the fact that this service issued 33,000 books annually to children and in Lambeth there was controversy over plans to use library space for gym provision.
“It is Unite’s view that GLL is unfit to run the library service in Bromley given its poor record in other London boroughs – and next Wednesday’s protest will ram home the message that it is time for Bromley councillors to have a massive rethink on the privatisation plans.”
The union has claimed that two-thirds of GLL staff are on contracts which are ‘zero hour contracts in all but name’, even though its chief executive Mark Sesan pocketed a pay packet of £193,000 in 2015.
The union said that the council had already conducted two public consultation exercises in Bromley, including one which revealed that 83 per cent of those replying supported the library service being run directly by the council – and ignored the results on both occasions.
Notes to editors:
Download the booklet: Unite the union response to consultation on the commissioning of Bromley library service
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.