Saturday, 24 September 2011

Bagshot Library Ctd...

Thursday 15th September

I had the opportunity to attend a pair of meetings last week as part of the continued efforts to save Bagshot Library.

I say save - the County Council Leadership have, as part of the money saving exercises required to save £1m per week across all County departments, elected to encourage the smaller libraries to form Community Partnership models once they have been removed from the larger strategic network.
The arguments for and against such a move have been discussed on this blog and elsewhere and while I personally believe that there would have been other ways to move forward with the partnership model, I'm now trying to assist the organisation of a solution which keeps a library presence in Bagshot.

First up was Wednesdays 'Communities Scrutiny Committee' at County Hall. The Libraries came up again - specifically the dates in respect of the existing partnerships arrangements; the new strategic network; and the future of the remaining libraries, including Lightwater.
I spoke again of my concerns, but pushed for our committee to have a final say in respect of any closure dates for the 11 Community Partnership libraries, in the event that a workable partnership solution cannot be fully in place by the various cut off dates. It was a concern shared by the chairman and an amendment to the recommendation was proposed and subsequently carried by the committee.

I was subsequently invited to a public meeting held by 'The Friends of Bagshot Library' who have been the loudest local organisational voice in support of Bagshot Library to date.
Ably chaired by the ubiquitous Meurig Williams, we were shown a number of options explored by 'the Friends', followed by a question & answer session. It was clear that there was a lot of animosity from local people regards the future of the library in spite of the efforts of the Friends and others to come up with a solution.

I spoek briefly about making sure we had a workable proposal to put to the Library Service in order to ensure Bagshoit retained a library presence. Similarly, other speakers spoke of alternative options, but one thing remained clear; a broader solution is probably going to be required if we are going to make the best of the resources that the county side of the partnership are going to continue to remain to support.

I have a few ideas that I'm currently woirking on in respect of making the Library part of a larger 'Bagshot Community Hub', but more of that later.

1 comment:

  1. We await Stuart's option with interest. However any "animosity" at the Public Meeting was entirely directed at Surrey County Council and its representatives present - some of whom were not courteous enough to wait for the voting at the end to hear the people's opinion of SCCs unfair and unnecessary cuts. The clear majority was in favour of the staff at this SUCCESSFUL library (borrowers up by 28% in past 5 years)to continue to be provided by SCC. If the County persisted in demanding that ALL the savings on static libraries must be made by the 10 smallest communities - that's what we call unfair, Councillors - the audience voted to retain staff by fundraising and continue to allow volunteers to add value to the service with children's activities, reading clubs etc as they do at present.