Libraries

Judge revokes libraries decision

Surrey’s plans for community libraries will go back to the county council’s Cabinet after a judge today revoked a decision taken last year.

Earlier this month, Mr Justice Wilkie upheld a technical challenge over a decision to create 10 community-run libraries staffed by volunteers, although he did not criticise the policy itself.

Last month, the council and the claimants in the case agreed that instead of going back to court, the council’s original decision taken last September should be revoked. Today’s court order formalises that agreement.

With this in mind, the council announced last week it would bring the libraries plans back to a Cabinet meeting on 19 June, when it would consider all the work that has been done to develop a comprehensive training package for volunteers.

The council is about to start a consultation to ask users of the 10 libraries what equalities training they think should be provided for volunteers at community partnered libraries.

Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Services and the 2012 Games, said: “Today’s order brings the court proceedings to close. We’ve agreed that the best course of action is to take the libraries plans back to Cabinet and make the decision again, with all the information we need about volunteer training.

“A lot of work has already gone into making sure community library volunteers receive the training they need to help people with disabilities and other special needs. I’d urge people to give us their views in this latest consultation so we can further enhance the training package we have created.

“We want everyone to enjoy using Surrey’s libraries. Our aim all along has been to keep all 52 branches open and allowing communities to run libraries would enable us to this.”

ENDS

Media requiring further information can contact James Oxley at james.oxley@surreycc.gov.uk

Notes to editors

Under the libraries plans, communities would take over the day to day running of 10 smaller libraries, which account for about 7% of all library use in the county. The council would continue to provide everything else, including the building, the stock, computer equipment and the installation of free Wi-Fi in all its libraries.

The 10 libraries being offered for communities to run were identified following an assessment of various factors including use, cost and proximity to another library.

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