The History of FORE!
FORE! History Publication
For over ten years, since 1988, Haringey Council
cut the amounts of money available to the Library Service in each budget,
and never restored any of it.
This meant that opening hours, repairs and
maintenance, bookstock and staff were all reduced, year by year, until
what had been a fine service became a sad one.
Throughout this period user groups raised money, protested, demonstrated
and wrote letters but to little avail in the long term. Matters were at
crisis at a lowpoint when the final straw was placed in 1999 with the sudden
publication of a
Best Value Review.
This Review suggested closing two or three branch
libraries to ease financial pressures, and immediately the support groups
and FORE! moved into top gear. At the meeting
of the Policy & Strategy Comittee meeting
called to discuss the Review, there was an outcry of unprecedented proportions
against the contents of the Best Value Review
from individuals and from library support groups. The Chairman, Cllr George
Meehan, set up a Task Group under Cllr. Alan Richardson, Lead Member for
Libraries, to consider the options in detail. FORE!
chairs and members were involved, together with representatives from users
in the Disability Action Group, the Racial Equality Group, Youth magazine
"Exposure", and Unison. This large group began meeting in June to look
at the whole problem.
Writing a report
It soon became clear that this group was not
able to either collect data or write a conclusion, so FORE!
began to create "LOOKING FORWARD", a survey
of the past ten years of the Haringey Library Service
its deterioration and a detailed critique of the Best
Value Report (a copy of this report can be found on the
The report that CPLUG
had written earlier was of great help. We included a corrected statistical
analysis of the figures (by local statistician and barrister George Stern),
prepared and printed a User
Survey covering four libraries, provided a questionnaire for councillors
on their views on libraries, and set out a blueprint for the future.
of "LOOKING FORWARD" were sent to all councillors,
local newspapers, MPs, and the Department of Culture,
Media & Sport. It received great acclaim, although to this day
we have had no formal recognition from the Council. A new Best
Value Review was published in March 2000 which was completely different
from the 1999 version and which incorporated many of FORE!’s
suggestions as well as many new ideas.
basic problem of cuts in funding from 2.5% of the budget in 1988 to less
than 1% in 1999 is the key factor in all the problems of the Library
Service, which found itself with less and less of a voice or presence
under Education. In 2001 there has been
a slight change - no budget cuts for libraries and an injection of £2000,000
for books. The change in heart we attribute to the influence of FORE!
in the debate and the glaring fact that Haringey is one of the four councils
at the bottom of the Library lists of the Department
of Culture, Media & Sport - with a statutory need to pull up
to the middle level in three years to comply with the new Standards.
© 2001 FORE, all rights
reserved. Drawings thanks to Ted Dewar