Bishop of Worcester highlights cultural and heritage losses of local council cuts

On 24th January 2019 the Bishop of Worcester, Rt Revd John Inge, spoke in a debate tabled by Lord Scriven, “That this House takes note of the ability of local authorities across the United Kingdom to deliver essential services to their communities.”

The Lord Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, I rise with a heavy heart to raise questions concerning the ability of local councils to deliver essential services to their communities. I welcome the prospect of increased short-term government funding but, without that being increased and continued or there being rises in council tax, whatever the rights and wrongs of that, I question whether it will be sufficient to enable councils to meet rising demand, especially in social care. That issue is of immense concern, but others have spoken eloquently about it.

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Bishop of St Albans encourages partnerships between libraries and rural churches

St Albans 2On the 13th October 2016 Lord Bird led a debate in the House of Lords: “That this House takes note of the cultural, civic and educational significance of libraries, bookshops and booksellers in the United Kingdom.” The Bishop of St Albans the Rt Revd Alan Smith, spoke about the impact closure could have on rural communities and the importance of imaginative partnerships which are developing between libraries and churches.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I, too, add my congratulations the noble Lord, Lord Bird, for securing this debate. I want to speak today about the future of libraries and other shared community spaces in rural areas, as a vital contributor to rural sustainability. I should declare an interest as the president of the Rural Coalition, which brings together a range of rural interest groups, and as a bishop responsible for a large number of rural parishes across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

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Bishop of St Albans asks Government about the future of internet access in libraries

On the 11th February 2016 Lord Greaves asked the Government  “what assessment they have made of the impact of the Local Government Finance Settlement on the provision of libraries”. The Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Revd Alan Smith, asked a follow up question.

Bishop of St AlbansThe Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, the Minister has twice mentioned the changing nature of libraries. Of course, they are not just about books. Nowadays, they are a major and vital source for internet access, especially in poorer areas, where people need them to apply for jobs and where fewer households have broadband. Especially in rural areas where broadband coverage is much lower, they are a vital part of rural sustainability. The Government are rolling out broadband very quickly, and that is encouraging, but it does need time. What support are they giving to those vital online centres, many of which are closely related to libraries or in libraries, both for the sake of heritage but also for the sake of our economy?

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