They say that if you tell yourself something enough, you will eventually believe it to be true. This is the hole that Surrey County Council has dug itself into.
SCC has convinced itself, by mantra, that it lost the judicial review on a technicality. This, despite the judge not saying anywhere in his 10,000 word judgment that his was a technical ruling. This group-think denial by SCC is leading it into further trouble.
In an attempt to shore up its unlawful decision, the council is engaging in a quick box-ticking exercise. Hurrying to retake its library decision, it is attempting to consult with too few people and on too narrow grounds.
The council’s consultation asks some library users narrowly what equalities training should be given to volunteers (see previous blogs for details). In its haste it addressed most of the envelopes incorrectly. Recognising its error, it has put back its decision to a later cabinet meeting (24th July) and has sent out further consultation documents, confusing those that received and sent back the first set.
We now know that many have sent in two consultation returns, many have not sent in any, and others have not received either set of documents. Further, SCC has requested that Community Partnership steering group members send in two sets of consultation returns each, perhaps to bump up the numbers and perhaps to increase the number of favourable responses. Who knows?
Quite what SCC is hoping to learn from such a shambolic process is not clear. The information does not seem to be that important to SCC in any case. Helyn Clack, SCC Cabinet member responsible for libraries, gave this response in an interview about the library plans with the Surrey Mirror:
Can you envisage being persuaded by further consultation?
Helyn Clack: Probably not.
If that’s the case, why is the council wasting everyone’s time…and money?
Mrs Carole Deakins, Chair of New Haw Library Community Partnership Steering Group, sent an open letter to SCC CEO David McNulty last week, updating him on progress, but also criticising SLAM for “challenging the decisions of our democratically elected representatives.”
We drafted this open response to Mrs Deakins, congratulating her on her progress and spelling out why we felt it necessary to challenge our democratically elected representatives.