Leeds City Council library bosses email gaffe EXCLUSIVE

Catherine Blanshard.
Catherine Blanshard.
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A senior Leeds City Council officer is at the centre of a row after mistakenly copying people into an email that used “unacceptable” language.

The email was sent by chief libraries officer Catherine Blanshard, who is overseeing a proposed shake-up that could signal the closure of 20 branches.

Among those threatened is Scholes library and the email was sent after a mobile library was seen parking for a few minutes at different locations in the village.

Consultation on the future of Leeds libraries has closed and decisions on possible closures could be taken in the coming weeks. One plan is to use large mobile libraries to fill the library gap.

When a vehicle was seen in Scholes Barwick and Scholes Parish Council chairman Ben Hogan emailed seeking an explanation.

A reply from the council’s head of libraries Beverley Rice explained that mobiles were checking possible stops all over the city to check their suitability.

She added it was not an indication of any decisions as the testing was done before the end of public consultation.

Ms Rice sent a copy of her reply to Mrs Blanshard, who in responding to her colleague inadvertently copied in some parish council members.

The response intended for Ms Rice only said: “Oh I like it. Keep the pressure on the poor sods. Wind ’em up and then give them a nice surprise at the end. Was it testing carparking or whether the IT worked?

“I knew we should have gone for simple white vans with no pretty art work then they might have thought it was a dustbin lorry. You should have asked if he liked the look of it. B****** eagle-eyed public – it will have wound up our friend though – goody.”

George Hall, a member of the parish council, said the email showed a lack of respect and a lack of judgement and added: “Had we not been inadvertently included in the response it would still be inappropriate to reply to one of her colleagues like that.”

The parish council has agreed to send a “strongly worded letter” to the city council and Coun Andrew Carter, Conservative group leader, said he was concerned about the email’s contents and was seeking an explanation.

Martin Farrington, Leeds City Council’s acting director of development, apologised to those involved and added: “We have investigated the matter and taken appropriate action internally. The council accepts that, even though the email was sent inadvertently, its language and tone was not acceptable.”