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Archive for January, 2012

SLAM continues to engage, interact and listen to all views of people with an interest in Surrey’s library service. To facilitate this process, and to keep everyone abreast of the latest situation, SLAM is hosting an open meeting as follows:

SLAM Open Meeting
8pm, Tuesday 7th February 2012
St Mary’s Community Centre
Stream Close
Byfleet
KT14 7LZ
 All are welcome. Please bring friends, ideas, and a commitment to libraries, librarians and the very many benefits they provide to us all!

Fundraising

SLAM is a group of library volunteers, library users and library supporters. We are supporting the Claimant, Lucy, in her battle to protect 10 community libraries in Surrey and we must therefore raise the “community contribution” to the costs of the case that the Legal Services Commission will require. We have set up a new tab on this website, “Legal Action and Fundraising”, to provide updates on the legal case and to collect donations to the “fighting fund”. If you can help in any way, please let us know, or make a donation if you can possibly afford to. Many thanks!

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The High Court of Justice in London has issued an injunction today preventing Conservative-run Surrey County Council proceeding with plans to create Community Partnered Libraries in 10 communities across Surrey (See About SLAM tab for details of libraries).

The injunction was issued by The Hon Mr Justice Wyn Williams and orders that:

The Defendant [Surrey County Council] shall take no irrevocable steps towards implementing the Community Partnered Libraries (CPLs) decision impugned in these proceedings until further order of this court.

The injunction was issued to stop CPLs being completely set up before we can seek permission for a Judicial Review.

We were surprised that the injunction was issued so soon  – we were expecting this stage to last about three weeks – but see this as an endorsement of the strength of our case.

We are, nonetheless, very happy that this decision was reached and can begin to prepare the full case without worrying about SCC going too far with their plans.

We still need help with funding

If you can help at all with funding, we would be very grateful. Our case is strong and, should we win, our costs are likely to be returned to us. If that happens then we will return the money to whoever donated.

If you can help, then please donate to:

Lloyds TSB
Account Title: SLAM
Account Number 48371668
Sort Code: 30-99-80.

If you are kind enough to do so, please also email to let us know at slamtreasurer12@gmail.com  so that we can return any money should we win.

If you want to pay by cheque then please Contact Us and we will provide the address of our Treasurer.

Many thanks

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Surrey County Council has responded to our letter requesting that it reconsiders its controversial plans for the library service. It has attempted to defend its position and has indicated that it is happy for the dispute to go to  a full High Court Judicial Review.

Their main argument, and the argument they have pushed in the local media, is that SLAM is out of time to lodge proceedings. But we say that this argument is based on an easily verifiable factual error.

The law states that we have 3 months maximum to issue legal proceedings after the final decision on libraries was made. SCC claims that the final decision was made on the 27th September, which means that we had until Boxing Day to act. The minutes of the Cabinet meeting of 1st November state, however:

The Communities Select Committee met on 18 October 2011 to consider a call-in of the Cabinet’s decision of 27 September 2011 in relation to the Public Value Review of the Surrey Library Service. The Select Committee did not decide to refer the matter back to the Cabinet and, in accordance with call-in procedure rules, the decision came into effect from the date of the Select Committee meeting.

Minutes here – Section 146/11 (b)

(http://online.surreycc.gov.uk/legcom/CouncilP.nsf/78333512986c70b7002568ff003ca441/3f1d5b7f79f9fb7d8025793c005b8c05/$FILE/Minutes%20-%201%20November%202011.pdf)

The decision was, therefore, effective as of 18th October 2011 which gives us until 17th January 2012 to make our claim.

Another of their defences is that “consultation may be unnecessary if relevant views can be taken as being engaged through an alternative mechanism.” The letter then claims that  the “alternative mechanisms” in this case were SLAM’s protests, and our “various petitions and questions.” Considering that a good proportion of our protests and questions were over SCC’s lack of consultation, SCC’s defence seems to be that SLAM’s complaints about lack of consultation counts as a legal substitute for proper consultation. We’ll leave you to figure that out.

Suffice to say, nothing in their response justifies withdrawing professional staff from 10 libraries and making them volunteer run and, in fact, there is plenty in their response to suggest that out case is strong. That being the case, our lawyers will be issuing legal proceedings early next week.

Funding – help, please!

Following on from issuing legal proceedings, we will be requesting permission for an injunction preceding a Judicial Review. Our legal costs are already mounting.

We will be receiving legal aid but we still have to make a “Community Contribution” to the costs. The Legal Services Commission will decide how much the Contribution will be but we have been advised it will be between £10,000 and £15,000 – hopefully the former but we have to be prepared for the worst case.

We have made a start and have already raised about £2,500 (give or take a few pounds) but if there is anything you can do to help (suggestions for how we might raise this money or if you know anybody that might be able to help) then please, please let us know.

Or if you could make a personal or group contribution, we would be very grateful indeed.

The good news is that, if we win the case, then it is likely that our Community Contribution will be paid back. If this is the case then we would pay all the money back to people who have donated.

If you can help, then please donate to:

Lloyds TSB
Account Title: SLAM
Account Number 48371668
Sort Code: 30-99-80.

If you are kind enough to do so, please also email to let us know at slamtreasurer12@gmail.com  so that we can return any money should we win.

If you want to pay by cheque then please Contact Us and we will provide the address of our Treasurer.

Many thanks, and sorry for the long blog!

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We found a letter in this week’s Epsom Guardian by a local resident, Linda Warr, despairing at what is being done to her local library at Tattenhams. Surrey County Council has been making changes to the Tattenhams’s library in preparation for it to be volunteer run.

As we wait for SCC to respond to our pre-action letter, we could not put the case any better than Linda Warr. So we simply reproduce her letter here as a warning that volunteer-run libraries are not the way forward.

Spiteful vandalism of precious library

You printed such good letters (Your Say, December 15) from Anne Oldham and B Sykes about the destruction of Tattenham’s library.

It has been known for months the staff were to be thrown out. Instead of helping us to fight this insanity, our MP, Councillors and Residents’ Association all encouraged us to volunteer.

They made no effort to find out what would really happen and potential volunteers believed that the library would be handed over with the only loss being one of the three public access computers (with no real explanation as to why it had to go).

In fact, those remaining two computers are the only IT left in the library.

All three staff computers have gone. Inexplicably, so has the computer dedicated to the county catalogue.

In an act of pure vandalism the whole library counter has been ripped out and replaced by just one self-service machine.

This library is now out of the loop. The supply of new books has dried up.

Staff cannot help the public to request books, to override the system when sensible, or to look up their PIN if a computer is free.

As time goes on I’m sure users will be shocked at how little “service” is left.

Staff are reduced to shelving and to helping disgruntled, if not furious, people to borrow and return books.

What a way to spend their last weeks in a job that they used to love.

The whole fiasco has been cruel, spiteful and vindictive – as though we are all being punished for the crime of appreciating our wonderful library.

The end must come soon. Nice new flat, anyone?

Linda Warr

 

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