Community-run libraries decision to stand
19 Oct 2011
The county council's communities select committee has decided not to ask the authority's decision-making cabinet to reconsider plans for an overhaul of Surrey's library service.
Decision-makers at County Hall will not have to reconsider plans for an overhaul of Surrey’s library service.
The county council is looking to create a Strategic Library Network consisting of 33 branches managed by the authority, with others run by volunteers.
The authority’s Conservative cabinet agreed to proceed with a pilot “community partnership” scheme for 10 branches at a meeting last month.
These are the libraries in Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water and Warlingham.
According to a report considered at that meeting, for any library where no community partnership is established “a decision about closure will need to be taken in December”.
The report also stated that nine branches – including Hersham’s - were not identified as potential community partnerships or within the managed network.
Cabinet members decided to continue to fully support the service provision at these locations for now.
They also agreed that the nine would not be considered for inclusion within the community partnership scheme until the pilot has been in existence for a full year from April 1, 2012 and an evaluation of its success has taken place.
Three opposition councillors – Residents’ Association member Jan Mason plus Lib Dems John Orrick and Colin Taylor – subsequently called in the decisions made at the meeting.
The county council’s communities select committee reviewed the matter at a meeting in Kingston yesterday afternoon (Tuesday).
After a vote, the committee agreed not to refer the original decisions back to the cabinet for reconsideration.
In a statement released after the meeting, Cllr Orrick said: “If the plans are pushed through by the Conservative administration it will be a disaster for each of the county's smaller libraries, which have a gun to their head to toe the line with this policy.
“It discriminates against Surrey's smaller towns.”
At a meeting of the full council last week, Denise Saliagopoulos – the authority’s cabinet member for community services – said that the community partnership proposals were an innovative and viable alternative to closure.
“We know how important these services are to people and we wanted to find a way to continue to provide high quality services to residents in these economically challenging times,” she said.
“We want to retain the services broadly at their current usage.”