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Archive for August, 2012

It is with disappointment that we report the SCC Communities Select Committee decided today not to refer the libraries decision back to SCC’s cabinet for reconsideration. This means that SCC will now remove paid staff from 10 libraries across Surrey and seek to replace them with volunteers.

In an intense four-hour meeting, witnesses were questioned robustly, debate was often heated and tempers were lost at times. SLAM, representatives of the community libraries and opposition councillors made the reasoned  case for the decision to be referred back to cabinet to enable other more reasonable alternatives to be considered.

But although the case to refer back seemed unanswerable, the politics of the situation was always going to play the last card. In a committee made up of 7 Conservative, 2 Liberal Democrat and 2 Resident Association councillors, the final vote was perhaps inevitably 7-4 in favour of proceeding with the volunteer-run library policy, with all 7 conservatives voting for the policy and all opposition councillors voting agin.

We note that there are County Council elections next May. For the record, councillors voted as follows:

For proceeding with the CPL policy

  • Steve Cosser – Conservative – Godalming North
  • Chris Norman – Conservative – Chertsey
  • Angela Fraser – Conservative – East Banstead
  • Dennis Fuller – Conservative – Camberley West
  • Mike Bennison – Conservative – Hinchley Wood, Claygate and Oxshott
  • Denise Turner-Stewart – Conservative – Staines South and Ashford West
  • Richard Walsh – Conservative – Laleham and Shepperton

Interestingly, none of the above are councillors for the affected communities

Against proceeding with the CPL policy

  • John Orrick – Liberal Democrat – Caterham Hill
  • Colin Taylor – Liberal Democrat – Epsom and Ewell South West
  • Eber Kington – Residents Association – Epsom and Ewell North
  • David Wood – Residents Association – Epsom and Ewell North East

 

SLAM is currently taking advice and will be responding to today’s decision in a few days time.

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The call-in of the cabinet’s decision to proceed with volunteer-run libraries is tomorrow (16th August 2012) between 10am and 1pm in the Aschcombe Room, County Hall in the London Borough of Kingston upon Thames. All are welcome to attend.

The special meeting of the Communities Select Committee will decide whether to refer the library decision back to the cabinet for reconsideration.

Witnesses have been called to address the Communities Select Committee and answer questions as follows:

  • Helyn Clack – cabinet member for community services
  • David Hodge – Leader, Surrey County Council
  • Sue O’Connell – Chair of Bramley Parish Council
  • Jenny Meineck – Ewell Court Library
  • Lee Godfrey – SLAM

Another prospective CPL announces its dissension

The Friends of Stoneleigh library, the group expected to take over Stoneleigh library should the CPL policy be approved, are the latest group to have sent an open letter to SCC CEO David McNulty announcing their disquiet about the CPL policy and ask for sensible amendments to the flawed CPL policy.

Their complaint highlights that their volunteers came forward because they were led to believe running their own library was the only way to save enough money to keep it open. Now SCC has admitted the policy will save no money they are demanding their paid staff and library management system back.

The letter was sent on 11th July and, as yet, they have had no reply. The Friends of Stoneleigh library are not the first group to have been ignored by SCC and I suspect they won’t be the last.

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