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.