Monday, 31 January 2011


Monday 7thFebruary at 3:30 pm, author M G Harris (The Joshua Files) and children’s illustrator Korky Paul (Winnie the Witch) will lead a Pied Piper procession from St Swithun’s School to the Village Centre. We are hoping it will be noisy so please bring instruments, drums, pipes and blowers for the procession. Then join us in the Village Centre for short readings and free tea & kids’ refreshments.

Even if you do not have a child at the school it would be great if you could still meet in the school grounds for the start of the procession around 3.20pm. We will need additional adult helpers and marshals because children are involved in the procession and they should all be accompanied by adults to make it safe otherwise it might not be able to go ahead. RSVP by email (letting us know how many adults and children can come).

We will have a handover of all the letters you have written to Keith Mitchell. Cllr Mitchell may not come, in which case we will do a symbolic handover to Korky and MG. We are still in the process of getting TV, radio and press to come. Bring your Library Card—you can borrow books from the Library while you are at the Village Centre!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

M G Harris helps out

As already mentioned, M G Harris is coming to help out the cause. MG has written a lovely entry on her blog. Do take the time to read it.

Be sure to join us after school at the Village Centre! (There will be free tea and kids' refreshments.)

The Philip Pullman Speech

On Thursday 20th January, Philip Pullman gave an outstanding and moving speech.

It's a long read, but well worth it.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Famous authors to come help!

Be at the Village Centre Monday 7th February at 4:00 pm!

Authors M G Harris (The Joshua Files) and Korky Paul (Winnie the Witch) are coming to help us with the handover and publicising of the letters to the council.

Bring your friends; bring your family; bring your children!

Be seen to support our Library, which the council has decided to close.

Be there to support our Village Centre, which may also close if the Library closes.

Remember that we still need more letters -- please print, address and sign a letter, then hand it in to the Friends table outside the Library. (If you have problems printing or downloading a letter, contact Paddy on 01865 429135 for help.)

Monday, 24 January 2011

Letter-writing to the Council

Many people have written letters to Keith Mitchell and handed them in to the library for us to deliver.

However, we do not yet have enough!

Please spread the word and encourage people to write letters. If you do not have time to write your own, just print the template of your choice, fill in your address and sign it, and hand it to our library (though a personally written letter would make a bigger impact).

Remember that if the Library closes, so too might the Village Hall -- maybe to be replaced with another large block of apartments!

The handover will take place Monday 7th February at 4:00 p.m. in the Village Hall (we invite you to come). But we need many more letters before that, if possible by Saturday 29th January (so we can prep the news media).

We have an exciting time planned for the handover; but more news on that closer to the date...

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Does the Council want to divide and conquer?

At the Pullman meeting on Thursday 20th, Nick Squid warned against the council "playing one service against the other." Philip Pullman talked about a probable strategy of "divide and conquer."

The Kennington library campaign has suspected this for some time. Councillor Judith Heathcoat seemed to confirm this when one of our members attended the Berinsfield meeting recently. At the meeting, Cllr Heathcoat said that there was no secrecy about the figures (the costs of the libraries), and that if people emailed her or the future libraries address, the figures would be provided.

Our member pointed out that we had been asking for these figures for nearly a month and despite numerous emails and letters, she had given us precisely no information at all.

Cllr Heathcoat's reply was disappointing. Instead of promising to rectify the situation, she gave a short reply implying that our member had no right to be at the meeting, as Kennington had had its turn. Personally, I would have thought that the question would be highly appropriate for Berinsfield and indeed all other libraries.

That type of action appears (to me) to show that the Council is not interested in serving the people who elect and (through taxes) pay them, but rather to have their own agenda without a genuine consultation.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Letter to the Oxford Times

'Plain discrimination' Oxford Times, Thursday 20th January 2011
Sir – I was surprised to read Keith Mitchell’s letter (January 13) repeating what he wrote to you in December: “They must put themselves in the shoes of the decision makers and say where else that £2m can be saved, if not from library spending. Should it be from Fire and Rescue or children’s social care.” Save the Kennington Library Campaign responded to his earlier challenge and we were indeed sympathetic with the council’s situation. But as he obviously ignored our reply, I follow his example and repeat our main point. We are not suggesting that the library budget should not be cut. We are asking that the savings should be made in a different manner, in a fairer way.
He proposes increasing the budget of some hub libraries but closing 20 rural and suburban libraries. This is plainly discriminatory; rural dwellers pay their taxes in an equal manner; so the cuts should apply equally too.
We have responded to the encouragement of councillor Heathcoat to email future libraries with comments, questions and suggestions. I understand hundreds of people have taken up that offer, but those who have spoken to me have all received an automated response.
After the last cuts, Adderbury library formed a Friends Group to pay their librarian for the hours not funded by the council. Volunteers can help but a modern library service needs professional librarians I am sure Friends can rally in the hub libraries, too. There may be a better way of cutting the libraries budget than the one we suggest of cutting all 43 libraries by 20 per cent. Without the necessary data, any other suggestion on our part is just a guess. What we need is a genuine consultation.
Sylvia Vetta, On behalf of The Friends of Kennington Library

Successful public meeting in Kennington

An excellent campaign meeting was held on 14th January in Kennington Village Hall. Participants were given an update on the developments to the campaign so far and planned activities. We have made available the full minutes.

A key next stage in the campaign is to write as many letters as possible asking questions of Keith Mitchell that require a written response. You can download templates and further details. We ask that everyone adress and sign their letters, and return them to a box outside the library by 29th January. Please also ask any other people that you know in Kennington to do the same.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Unintended consequences

Here is another unintended consequence of closing the Library in Kennington. Rob Maggs, the Treasurer of the Kennington Village Hall, has sent us figures showing that fully 12.5% of the Village Hall's income comes from the Library.If the Library were to close, this would endanger the Village Hall, as it would be hard, if not impossible in these straitened times, to find the same regular and reliable source of income.

The Village Hall might have to close. Goodbye Tae Kwondo, Rosemary Connelly, Ballet Group, Junior Choir, Dancing Classes, local KADS shows, and so forth. Where would we hold our Parish Council meetings? Room for a Tesco in Kennington, anyone? (And what would be the knock-on effects of that? Goodbye local Post Office, perhaps?)

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Savings, What Savings?

All proposed library closures are planned for cost cutting. One of our Friends has decided to make a simple calculation...

47% of Kennington Library's visitors are over 60. This means 5,824 visits to the library by the elderly each year. If these people do as Keith Mitchell insists and visit the Oxford Library instead, that comes to 5,824 bus trips that the Oxfordshire County Council pays for through concessionary fares. The cost to the Council is £2.40 for a round trip, making a grand total of just under £14,000 per annum.

Kennington Library costs £25,000 per annum to run, less income of £4,000, making a net cost of £21,000. Thus closing Kennington Library will save the Council a mere £7,000 per annum.

What other unintended consequences arise from closing the local libraries, I wonder?

Monday, 10 January 2011

Come to our Campaign Meeting this Friday

Please attend our Public Meeting on the campaign to stop the closure of Kennington Library. It will be held in Kennington's Village Hall this Friday (14th) at 7.30pm. The Friends of Kennington Library will give an update on the campaign so far and explain how you can get involved.

Join a Public Meeting against the library closures, with Philip Pullman

Oxford Anti-Cuts Alliance has called a public meeting with speakers including Philip Pullman about the proposed library closures in Oxfordshire on Thursday 20 January 2011, 7.30pm, Assembly Room, Oxford Town Hall. Further details can be found on the Oxford Save Our Services website.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

What can you do to help?

Email your views
If you wish to support Kennington Library, and indeed all 20 libraries, you may pass your comments directly to Cllr Heathcoat at, or to the official email address

Visit the library
As the closures depend partly on the number of people visiting the library, the best way you can show support is to visit the library during its opening hours (see the newsletter page 20) and either renew your membership if expired; or, if you took out either membership at a different library or before Kennington Library was computerised, change your membership to Kennington Library.

Become a Friend
You can support the Friends of Kennington Library directly by becoming a member. The Friends will be available during library hours from the 5th and at the meeting on the 14th to become a member or to renew your membership, which costs just £2 and pays the overheads for all the children and adult events for the year. (Alternatively, contact Sylvia on 01865 739071.) We thank the Parish Council and Village Hall Management Committee for their support and organising the meeting in December, with only a week to fill the hall.

Attend the campaign meeting on Friday 14th January
A campaign meeting will be held in the Village Hall on Friday 14th January at 7.30pm. The Friends of Kennington Library will give an update on the County Councils plans and our campaign. We will also explain how you can take part in the campaign.

The campaign to save Kennington library begins

The Council has proposed closing the 20 smaller libraries in the county including Kennington Library, and over 100 people attended the Parish Council Meeting in the Village Hall in December regarding this closure. Councillors Judith Heathcoat and John Jackson were present to explain that there would be a consultation, they had very few facts available yet, and the decision to close had already been proposed. The closures are scheduled for the first quarter of 2012. The Friends of Kennington Library have initiated a campaign to save Kennington Library and to work together with the other 19 libraries in an effort to save all of them. They will hold a public meeting in the Village Hall at 7:30 pm on Friday 14th January.