Many thanks to Councillor Robert Rams for drawing our attention to the letter in the Barnet Press from Bill Murphy, assistant director of Customer services. There is an old adage that to be a good liar, you need to have a good memory. If your memory is good enough to stretch back to yesterday, you will have seen a link to the Prime Time BBC show, the One Show. This featured Friern Barnet Peoples Library and there was a quote from Barnet Council that they needed to save a million pounds. Given that the net saving from the closure of Friern Barnet and the opening of the Arts Depot library is less than £90,000 (if you believe the figures are accurate), then it is clear that there are some whoppers being told.
There are quite a dew distortions in this comparison. First there is no way that the Arts Depot Library can be compared with the Friern Library. For a start, it is tiny in comparison. The opening hours are restricted and it has a fraction of the number of books. It has not even got a link to the Barnet Council library system. It does not serve the needs of the Friern Barnet community and is simply an extension of the Church End Library which is more or less across the road. The staff at Church End are required to cover the shifts at the Arts Depot. It will be interesting to see how their hours are accounted for.
As it has less books it will be interesting to see what exactly the figures mean. We need to see a full set of accounts for each operation.
I would be most interested to see if any cost for the management overhead involved in the setting up had been taken into account. Would you be surprised if every conceivable costing has been added to the Friern Library number and every possible ruse used to minimise the number in the Arts Depot figure?
To save the taxpayers of Barnet the cost of an FOI, I've tweeted to my friend Councillor Rams to ask him to publish the full budgets on his blog. We shall see what transpires