Sheffield City Council has issued a response to yesterday’s cancellation of an event planned by Library Workers for a Brighter Future. The event was to feature poet Ian McMillan and was to take place at Upperthorpe Library in an effort to highlight the value of public libraries..
Richard Webb, Executive Director of Communities for the council said:
“We were approached by Library Workers for a Brighter Future, which is a group campaigning against library cuts locally and nationally. Our understanding was that they wanted to hold a workshop event in a library which would both celebrate libraries and be part of their campaign against cuts. We gave the advice that at this time, when Councillors haven’t made any decisions about funding for libraries in the coming year, it would not be appropriate to hold an event like this in a library.
“Ian McMillan is a great writer and a great Yorkshireman. He’s also a powerful ambassador for celebrating what libraries have to offer and is always assured of a warm welcome here. If something has got lost in translation here, then we want to put it right. We are trying to contact him and would be delighted to work with him to showcase what Sheffield’s libraries do – and to get more Sheffielders to enjoy what they have to offer.”
BBC Radio Sheffield reported this morning that they were refused permission by the Council to record a segment in a Sheffield Library yesterday.
Poet, broadcaster and comedian Ian McMillan has been banned from appearing at a childrens’ creative writing workshop by Sheffield City Council, over fears he might make “political comments”.
The event was due to take place at Upperthorpe Library, and was intended to highlight the value of public libraries. The cancellation was reported earlier today by Library Workers For A Brighter Future, a group working in opposition to proposed cuts to public libraries. The cancellation was later confirmed by a spokesperson for Mr McMillan.
McMillan, 55, said: “Libraries are a vital and irreplaceable part of a cultured and civilised society, and one of the few public places left where you don’t have to pay to get in.”
Sheffield’s libraries are expected to see a £2.5m cut in funding by 2013/14.
A spokesperson for Library Workers For A Brighter Future said: “The event, conceived as a fun and creative way of highlighting the value of public libraries, appears to have caused great concern for the council, with the decision over whether it should be allowed to go ahead passed all the way up to members of the senior management. We view this as a misguided and heavy-handed attempt to silence those of us who want to stand up for our library service and oppose the potentially devastating public sector cuts.”
SheffieldPolitics has contacted Sheffield City Council, who were unable to confirm the reason for the cancellation at the time of publication.