Oxfordshire County Council leader Keith Mitchell cries crocodile tears as he announces that 20 of our county’s much-loved public libraries face closure.

Behaving like some Burmese military dictator, he arrogantly tells us that us that it’s no use us protesting about the closures or organising petitions, as there’s no money left in the kitty, yet there is of course enough money to pay the totally outrageous £189,158-a-year salary to the council’s chief executive Joanna Simons.

The reality is that Mr Mitchell’s assault on public libraries is ideologically-driven and has nothing to do with financial necessity.

The idea of a place where all members of the community – young or old, rich or poor, can go to read or borrow books which are communally-owned is a quite wonderful one and totally at odds with neo-liberal ideology, which Mr Mitchell, a self-confessed supporter of the free market, adheres to.

Mr Mitchell wants volunteers to step forward to run some of the threatened libraries, as part of the Government’s Big Society programme.

But the Big Society should really be called the Big Con Trick, as it is a non-too subtle way of introducing back-door privatisation of local services and getting people to work for nothing.

Does he really think the people of Oxfordshire are village idiots?

As an Oxfordshire resident, whose local library is one of those earmarked for closure, and also as co-founder of the Campaign for Public Ownership (see campaign4publicownership. blogspot.com), a cross-party pressure group formed to defend public services and oppose privatisation, I can assure councillor Mitchell that his plans to destroy Oxfordshire’s excellent public library service will be fought every inch of the way.

Let’s work together to defend our libraries and remind Mr Mitchell that in a democracy, it’s the people’s voice that counts.

NEIL CLARK, Cedar Road, Botley