Grantham Journal column: Labour’s Charmaine Morgan talks midwifery unit closure and the battle to keep libraries

Charmaine Morgan - Labour

Charmaine Morgan - Labour

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A common theme is emerging across public bodies trying to justify cuts in vital services they know they should not be making.

Key decisions affecting thousands of us lay in the hands of only a few people based on questionable evidence and flawed consultations.

At Grantham Hospital, the South West Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group ignored more than 8,000 of us calling for the enhancement, rather than loss, of our midwifery unit. Their consultation did not even state the unit would close. It stated mothers would rather go to other hospitals than use Grantham’s maternity unit to have their babies when no specific survey seeking the views of local mothers had been completed beforehand.

We are told mothers have been at risk in the maternity unit yet we are expected to believe they will be safer having their babies now at home. We are told the unit will not be closed until high quality arrangements elsewhere can be found and yet, according to the trust, the majority of our mothers have been having their babies elsewhere for years.

** In Lincolnshire County Council, the cabinet presented its communities scrutiny committee (of which I am a member) with plans to significantly cut library services across our county. The justification is fewer people now visit our libraries. Yet, the figures used provide only part of the picture and during the committee meeting the officer responsible for the report admitted numbers of visitors could easily be doubled because so many people visit their library and do not take out a book.

The library assessment plans will leave only 10 main libraries functioning fully out of over 40. Countless villages reliant on mobile services will lose these altogether, and others will have their time cut from 1.5 hours a month to one hour. The remaining libraries will have resources squeezed.

For unemployed people in rural areas and reliant on library computers, the cuts will be devastating. They will not be able to afford to job hunt on-line and will lose benefits if they don’t when Universal Credit rules are applied.

Despite library cuts across the entire county, only a select few sitting on the cabinet will have the final say. Once more our communities must fight to keep the services we are paying for. A county wide campaign is to be launched shortly. Even if Grantham Library appears safe today, who knows where the knife will fall next.

Show your concern at cuts by signing the Save Lincolnshire’s Libraries petition at http://tinyurl.com/savelincslibraries