REVENUE-RAISING by a local council has reached an odd stage when it gets to the level of library noticeboards. It has reached that level at Waltham Forest (WF).
The council is selling space on the public noticeboards in its libraries, although it seems confused about the rates.
Paul Gasson, a resident of Walthamstow (its street market is shown above), tweeted that he had discovered that WF libraries were charging community groups £2 a week to display a poster.
Loving Dalston emailed Labour-led WF council to be told by an official that the fees were 50p a week for postcards and £1 a week for posters.
The official said the charges were “introduced as part of the council’s regular review of our libraries’ fees and charges. The fees apply only to commercial posters or postcards, meaning community groups can still advertise for free. The prices are advertised on the libraries page of the council website.”
The site confirms the fees. It does not, however, mention any distinction between community groups and, say, shops.
So Loving Dalston phoned one of the borough’s libraries to be told that the per-week charges were £2 for an A4-size notice, £1 for A5 and 50p for a postcard.
The librarian said that WF charged voluntary groups and individuals, whether private or commercial, to post on library noticeboards. Asked whether a church or others community/charity group announcing a jumble sale would have to pay, she replied that if it were charging an entrance fee to the event, it would.
The council official declined to say whether council bean-counters had mad, or commissioned from consultants, a calculation of how much income would be generated from charging for library noticeboards. The discrepancies between what the website said and what librarians were telling the public would be overcome.
Some councils are doing the opposite. Labour-controlled Oxford City Council says on its website that it has been erecting 75 community noticeboards to be managed by tenant and resident associations, community groups and other local groups. No mention is made of charging. Hackney council libraries do not charge.