Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Has the time passed for the council to actually own and manage assets, for instance, museums?

Barnet council's Budget and Performance Overview and Scrutiny Committee met this evening to debate questions such as this as it launched its Draft Estate Strategy [item 9].

(I'm last with the news today, I admit it, but I have to comment!)

The Times series discussed the paper with councillor Daniel Thomas. He said it had nothing in common with flogging off the family silver in order to plug gaps in the council's finances.

Among those things up for possible sale are allotments and libraries. The council has to provide a library service, so that might be run out of leased property, and bundled in with other council services. (I know this because I am reading a paper on the proposed Strategic Library Review.)

But do they have to provide museums? With no apparent irony, the paper discussed tonight says:
There are some property types which have a clear market value now. They have few interdependencies, do not need huge amounts of work to get ready for sale and which can be sold as they stood with lower than normal risk of achieving full value or possibly where the time has passed for the council to actually own and manage assets for instance museums.
The time has passed. The time has passed. In what sense has the time passed? Since when did time passing change whether it is useful or not to have a museum, a council-run museum, educating residents and informing them about the area in which they live? That time has not passed. That time will never pass. That is probably eternal. The only thing that has changed is that Barnet council is skint and philistine enough to consider flogging its museums, and anything else it can get away with flogging.

This is in the paper discussed tonight:
There are a number of assets where disposal is likely to be very sensitive for instance disposal of key parts of the agricultural estate [allotments] where borough ownership has clearly shaped the ambiance and sense of place. ...The same could be said for libraries and sports clubs etc. Navigating through these disposals would require significant resources and could face public opprobrium. How that could be done to ensure that economic gain was assured compared to long term cost to deliver?
As I said, I am reading the Strategic Library Review paper for the next Cabinet meeting. It deserves to be read alongside the Estate paper because you can be sure that a key purpose of the Strategic Library Review will be to find a way to persuade us that flogging libraries is a good idea.


Anonymous said...

Closing down Libraries! Absolute madness.

Hopefully London's librarians and users protest and maybe follow a lead from our Nordic Council EU partners.

Rog T said...

Surely the question should be "has the time passed for the council to actually be managed by ignorant twats like Daniel Thomas"

Anonymous said...

One read some where on a Council Agenda item that the twat is employed by a Building Society Mortgage Department. Let's hope it's not one where the taxpayer saved his job.