Tory ‘blogger’ and former Ofsted inspector claims Cambridgeshire library cuts are “anti educational, anti social and unnecessary’

A LEADING Tory and former OfSTED inspector claims cuts of up to 48 per cent planned for Cambridgeshire’s library service are “anti educational, anti-social, disproportionate and unnecessary”.

John Bald, now an independent education consultant living outside of Cambridge, added: “Stronger language easily comes to mind.”

Mr Bald is to write a regular column on the Conservative Home website to advise councillors “on how to deal with left-leaning officials.”

Mr Bald says in the case of Cambridgeshire the county council should have targeted other areas where the money is spent on “pure bureaucracy”.

He cites five areas where he feels the council could have made cuts which “would allowed more money to be devolved to schools and would have protected libraries.”

Those areas are:

Learning Professional Development Services �1.9m

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Learning Standards and Effectiveness 3-13, �2.83m

Ditto, 11-19 �2.52m

Professional development centres �220k

Learning ICT service �440k

Cuts to these, he claims “do not involve cuts in essential services, such as special needs or under fives, or in music. This expenditure is pure bureaucracy, and has had a cut of around 9%, a token in current circumstances.”

He says professional development is in-service training for teachers “usually taking them out of their classrooms for the purposes of indoctrination rather than training and leaving the children to waste their time being supervised by people who don’t know them or, often, their subjects.

“Learning standards and effectiveness refers to local authority ‘advisory’ services, which duplicate work that should be undertaken by schools themselves, or by Ofsted.

“The learning ICT service does work schools need to do for themselves if it is to be of any use to them. These headings have all had a cut of around 9%, under a fifth of the proportion taken from libraries.

“They are precisely the areas that Conservatives are trying to devolve to schools, and yet here is a major Conservative council shoring up the Labour agenda of powerful local authorities telling professionals what to do.

“Eliminating these areas from the budget would have saved the libraries and given a tidy sum to schools to organise their own training. But hell will freeze over before officials will recommend that.”

He also says a ‘localities budget’ which remains at �5.17 million after a nine per cent cut is a “complete waste of money, duplicating the work of parish councils” and could have been eliminated altogether.

“This is more of a Lib Dem than a Conservative policy and should be scrapped. There is nothing more local than a local library, and it is paradoxical, to put it mildly, that a localities programme should be protected at libraries’ expense.”

Mr Bald says his suggestions would have meant a saving of �12 million “with no downside, money for useful things and no cuts in libraries.

“But officials rule and the council let the officials set the main lines of the agenda.”