1) For 75 years I have been a grateful user of Public Libraries; much of my knowledge, education, entertainment and amusement coming from them. I have always found librarians to be the most efficient, most professional, helpful and friendly of all the professions, and have told them so, many times. For 48 years I have lived in the Bradford area, and have used libraries in Keighley, Bingley, Saltaire, Shipley, Allerton, Manningham, Girlington and Bradford Central. Staff in each of them have always been up to the standard I have learned to expect of them.
2) Manningham Library is only about 200 yards from my present home, and has obviously been very useful to me. In July 2009 it was reopened after being modernised and extended, most of the cost of nearly £1,500,000 having come from the Big Lottery Fund. The attractive facade has been cleaned and improved, the interior altered and extended.
3) Most dramatic however, has been the change in the staff! The efficient, helpful and friendly staff have been moved elsewhere – replaced by Common Purpose Automatons and Zombies, with a hotline to the Gestapo! You think I exaggerate? Not a bit of it! After being a friendly, convenient, community place on my doorstep, I would now be fearful of putting a foot in the place without a bodyguard and witnesses!
4) Today, Saturday, 23rd January 2010 I went to return a book, and asked the name of the Head Librarian (I had known the names of all the old staff). The ‘Library Manager’ told me I would have to speak to her ‘Line Manager’, who was busy taking in books, and stamping those going out. Two mothers with children were at the counter, so I sat close by and waited. After they had been served I could have taken my place to be served, but I waited until two other mothers had been dealt with. I had been sitting as quiet as the proverbial ‘little mouse’, but then stood up with the intention of asking my question.
5) Before I could get the words out, two Policemen arrived and made a beeline for me. “We understand you have been asked to leave and refused to do so” said one of them. That was completely untrue, and I told them so. Those who know anything about me know that I have every cause to be fearful of British Police. Shocked that a perfectly innocent errand had resulted in me being put in great fear, I told them that 66 years ago I had been fighting to keep people like them out of Britain, then realised that I had better get out of that place as fast as I could, which I did, badly shaken, There is a little bit more, but nothing that could remotely warrant such conduct by library staff. I tell it now.
6) A pensioner friend who I have known for more that 40 years goes into Manningham Library every day to read the daily papers. We have similar interests, and often exchange copies of documents on matters which interest us both. It has been an understanding that if I have anything for him, but he was not present when I went, I should leave items in an envelope, and staff would ensure he got them when he came next day. This we had been doing for several years, happily for all. Earlier in the week, I had done just that.
7) Yesterday, Friday 22nd January, my pensioner friend called on me unexpectedly, agitated and disturbed. “Do you know what they’ve done in that library” said he, “They’ve told me that Mr. Scarth has left an envelope for you, but you cannot have it because it is ‘Against the Rules’. If Mr. Scarth wants it back he will have to come and get it himself”. THAT is it! A friendly, convenient community place has been transformed – at great expense – into a place of fear!
8) In her Inquiry into the killings by Dr. Shipman, Dame Janet Smith identified “A Culture of Fear in the NHS”, which enabled Shipman to kill many more after he should have been stopped. The ‘Culture of Fear’ goes well beyond the NHS – it runs throughout the nation.
9) For the ‘Library Manager’ to tell such an outrageous lie is a sin, but to give false information to the police is also serious crime! I will be pressing for her to be prosecuted – not that it will do the slightest bit of good. There are only two laws in Britain: ‘Law One’ is to Protect the Powerful (and their lackeys). ‘Law Two’ is to Oppress the Others. 776 words.