The struggle to save the community libraries and the Library of Birmingham has been going on for several years now. The campaign over the latter began in the spring of 2013, even before it was opened by Malala in September of that year, against the background of rumours of private control.
One aspect of the campaigning has been to highlight the importance of these institutions and to oppose the cultural vandalism of the constant attacks upon them. This has been pioneered by the Friends of the Library of Birmingham, Slaney Street, the young occupiers of the LoB under their slogan of “A People’s Library”, the Friends of Birmingham Archives and Heritage and others. (Links at end)
The Launch Statement of the forthcoming West Midlands Combined Authority, ‘Growing the UK Economy through a Midlands Engine’, was published on 6 July. Its agenda is private sector profit, public sector privatisation and the by-passing of local democracy.
The West Midlands refers to the area covered by the three Local Enterprise Partnerships: the Black Country LEP, the Coventry and Warwickshire LEP, and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. The WMCA comprises the 7 Metropolitan Councils: Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Sandwell, Solihull, Walsall, and Wolverhampton. Negotiations under way with neighbouring County Councils and District Councils could bring the number up to 13.
We want to thank all the 100 or so people that made it a brilliant turn-out in Birmingham yesterday for the Rally against the ‘Procurement for Health’ conference. We made it clear to delegates (and the public) through our leaflet that ‘procurement’ is not a dirty word per se – the NHS needs supplies and it doesn’t need to be ripped off.
The reason we turned up to the ICC is that the organisers were using terms such as “Get into this market worth £20bn” and ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste”. Clearly this was not about the NHS not being ripped off but ripped apart, systematically, as private companies move in to cherry-pick: this event was not just about supplies for the NHS, but about taking services off the NHS.