Those attending today’s Cabinet meeting at County Hall would be forgiven for thinking that all is tickety-boo with the library plans. But as sycophantic Cabinet members fawned over each other in a nauseating display of self-ingratiation, local libraries were being badly let down.
For what this back-slapping hides is a major slippage in the library plans. According to the Council’s schedule, all of the volunteering groups should have signed contracts and be well on the way to setting up their “Community Partnered Libraries” by now. Today’s Cabinet meeting was due to discuss progress and to make a decision on closing libraries whose volunteers had not made sufficient progress.
As of today, however, not one group of volunteers has signed the contract. The Council has now given many of them until June 2012 to do so – a six month slippage in a project that is only three months old!
The project over-run will incur more costs, of course, adding to the hundreds of thousands of pounds already wasted on the folly, and now easily out-stripping the money that was supposed to be saved by creating the volunteer-run libraries.
The local groups, who have only agreed to volunteer in a last-ditch attempt to save their local libraries, deserve better. It’s time for the Council to cut its losses on the Community Partnership experiment and keep the libraries and library staff exactly where they are.