LETTER: ‘Evolution’ in our libraries

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Horsham MP Jeremy Quin wrote a ‘political view’ entitled ‘Libraries evolving for modern age’ which was published in WSCT on 18th February.

I write as a frequent user, supporter and admirer of the West Sussex Library service and its staff – particularly at Horsham and Crawley.

In his article, Mr Quin is quoted as saying in relation to how the service is ‘evolving’ (by which I think he implies some form of improvement):

‘A less familiar sight are lockers – provided through an agreement with an on-line retailer – from which library members can pick up deliveries: it works well for members and the libraries earn rent’.

First of all, there is an error of fact. The ‘lockers’ are not only available to members of the County Library but to all who wish to have dealings with the ‘on-line retailer’.

Secondly, and more significantly, is the fact that the ‘on-line retailer’ is Amazon. I wonder why Mr Quin was so reluctant to be more specific?!

Incidentally, there are also such ‘lockers’ at Crawley and Chichester libraries and these have also been there for some years now.

On 8th February, Margaret Hodge MP wrote in The Guardian:

‘Amazon does not pay its fair share of taxes to the UK exchequer. It is one of many multinational corporations that has established a complex web of companies in Luxembourg with the sole purpose of shunting its profits out of Britain to avoid tax in the UK. In 2014, Amazon enjoyed sales of £5.3bn from its UK customers; it paid just £11.9m in corporation tax. In 2012 when the company paid £2.4m in corporation tax, it actually received government grants for the larger sum of £2.5m, which subsidised the construction of one of Amazon’s warehouses’.

So for some years now, our county council has accommodated a multinational firm - with, to say the least, a dubious UK tax record - to do business in its own premises. Presumably, this is the sort of ‘evolution’ that the Horsham MP approves of....

Would the county council be prepared to divulge how much rent Amazon pays to the Library Service for this facility and how much longer the contract has to run?

GERAINT THOMAS

Labour Borough Councillor for Northgate Ward, Crawley, Aldingbourne Close, Ifield, Crawley

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