R4U and UDC condemn Essex County Council proposal not to pay library staff

Under Residents for Uttlesford leadership Uttlesford District Council has approved a cross-party motion that condemns Essex County Council’s new library strategy to use unpaid staff.

Barbara Light (R4U) Barbara Light (R4U)

Cllr Dr Barbara Light, Uttlesford District Council portfolio holder for Education and Libraries said “What is clear is that having been forced to do a U-turn on cutting and closing Uttlesford libraries, ECC is now trying to do it by the back door. Their new strategy is to dump libraries on volunteers. It shows they can’t be trusted. The Tories’ gig-economy has gone too far – people should be paid a fair wage for a fair day’s work. At the most recent UDC full council meeting we approved a cross-party motion that condemned their actions. The only notable vote against the motion was by Cllr Susan Barker; but that is not surprising as it is her strategy – she’s also an Essex County Councillor where she is responsible for libraries and implementing the Conservative cuts.”

Cllr Light added “Our libraries are a vital part of our local communities and ECC has a legal obligation to provide them. Uttlesford residents send ECC more than £40m a year in council tax to deliver our services, but today we only get 2/3 of our fair share of the library budget back. Our libraries should be properly funded. If ECC won’t provide a viable vision for their future, we will. We have already established a Library Forum designed to prevent closures and develop approaches to reshape them into real community hubs where residents can expand their knowledge and skills, gather for activities and friendship, learn and use new technologies, and engage with local initiatives.”

About Residents for Uttlesford

Residents for Uttlesford (R4U) is the local independent party of north-west Essex towns and villages. Formed in 2014 by a number of residents’ groups, the party believes that on local issues residents should decide, not Westminster parties.

R4U leads Uttlesford District Council (UDC). It is the fastest growing local political movement in its district. In its first election in 2015 it became the second party at UDC. In 2017 it solidified its position with a further by-election gain with 60% of the vote. In the May 2019 Local Elections R4U gained majority control of UDC winning two-thirds of the seats. The result delivered the biggest loss of seats by any UK Conservative controlled council in the UK.

R4U’s success has been based on the desire to give local people a voice and implement long range strategic and sustainable plans for their area.

R4U also leads Saffron Walden Town Council, where under its stewardship the council has rebuilt finances, invested in community assets, and won multiple awards, including the best run council in Essex. It is a minority party on Great Dunmow Town Council.

Residents for Uttlesford can be found on the web at www.residents4u.org.