Closing Thornbury One Stop Shop is their preferred option
Cutting local services is the priority for the Conservatives nationally and locally. Consulation has ended on proposals to close our One Stop Shop which is based at the library and is the one place in Thornbury where you can directly speak to and do business with a Council officer.
Do not despair though! In return the people of Thornbury will become Council guinea pigs for more cuts like this across South Gloucestershire. An untried, unproven, unspecified “digital alternative” will be used and they will experiment with it on Thornbury folk so that they can get to know how to cut other such face to face services in the local authority.
So brush up on your digital skills and your performance on video camera and remember that your loss of the One Stop Shop will help the Conservatives cut more. Small comfort for the people of Thornbury in general and particularly for those who will find the proposed alternative remote, daunting and impersonal.
The above article was written by Earle Kessler for Your Voice, Friday 20th May 2016.
Earle was writing in reaction to the proposal put forward by South Glouscestershire Council (SGC) to close the Thornbury One Stop Shop (see SGC web page here). His piece also serves to fuel the fire of wider debate about discrimination and access to local services. What follows is an examination of why we are entitled to feel aggrieved by the SGC proposals.
First we need a little context and a few points we should never forget…
Point one; government at every level is primarily concerned with service of one kind or another.
Point two; all of the Government’s powers and responsibilities are granted by our parliament on the basis of what is right and proper for every individual across the nation and the national interest as a whole. (It is acknowledged that the methods and outcomes do often excite vocal dissent in some quarters).
Point three; Aside from the hustle and bustle of democratic debate, and so long as the Government (or in this case the Local Authority) provide suitable and sufficient services to the community as a whole on a fair and equitable basis, then the vast majority will comply for the most part with the conventions of our society. In other words, this covenant between citizens and government plays a major role in forming what we all recognise as society. To allow it to become broken would be to do so at our peril.
Earle’s article draws attention to the clause ‘fair and equitable basis’. The SGC proposal to close the Thornbury One Stop Shop and impose a restrictive alternative is the antithesis of ‘fair and equitable basis’. A self service digital alternative may work well for those who know what they want and can confidently navigate a website. From amongst the rest of us, those most vulnerable need the help to access a service or register for their entitlement which only comes from human interaction with knowledgeable staff. It is for those individuals that access will be denied. By this erosion of ‘fair and equitable basis’ SGC is jeopardising the covenant between [local] government and the populace of the SGC unitary authority area.
Examples of casual discrimination are becoming all to common. We are in the throes of loosing great swathes of our library service, and whilst this will concentrate services and users in fewer locations, some will in effective be barred from access which others can take for granted.
If is allowed to proceed in Thornbury, why wouldn’t it next happen in Yate ?