IT is quite correct for local people to be suspicious of the local Conservative controlled Swindon Borough Council when it makes such moves as imposing a 30p charge to reserve library books online.

As Sue Cozens wrote (January 14, ‘Your Views’) users of smaller libraries in the borough are likely to be disadvantaged as compared with, say, those who tend to use the Central Library in Swindon.

It could indeed be part of a strategy to deter use of libraries in general. Advisers to the Conservative Party nationally had for several years before the national financial crisis been planning to cut public services and the numbers of those employed on the public payroll. The Conservatives - with the supine connivance of the Liberal Democrats at UK level - are now doing so across a whole swathe of public services and attempting to blame the banker-induced global financial crisis on the investment that the previous UK Labour Government made to improve public services as well as access to such services.

Coming from a Party whose instincts are to assume that people should shell out up front for services, whether public or not, it is not really surprising. If they continue along this path many people in England should look out for extra point of use charges, including quite possibly in many areas of public services where taxation has up to now been the method used to pay for collective goods.

That may well extend beyond borrowing books to using education, social services and much of the National Health Service provision over time, unless something causes a change in the systematic dismantling of public provision that is afoot.


Southampton Street