Library Consultation ends with "Andrew Lansley" moment as Mark Bee receives Bungay Library scrapbook
|Cllr Mark Bee looking through the Bungay|
Mark was accompanied by Peter Aldous, MP for Waveney,
David Ritchie the local County Councillor and Simon Woods the Mayor of Bungay and currently a Waverley District Councillor (all Conservatives).
Handing the scrapbook over Sylvia Knights sent a strong message to Mark Bee and the Conservative administration about the local strength of feeling with a 1300 signature petition joining more than 18000 signatures from across Suffolk that were handed in on Wednesday to Library Portfolio holder Judy Terry. An important point was mentioned during the handover that has perhaps sometimes been overlooked, the way Suffolk library staff have been treated and the effect on them of the ongoing threat to their jobs.
Mark Bee accepting the scrapbook took on board the criticisms of the consultation process saying they need to "do better and get things right" and promised a new approach describing this as an "Andrew Lansley" moment - a reference to the health secretary who has recently had to put his plans for health service reform on hold to listen more to staff and patients.
Mark went on to to describe all libraries as different which I am not so sure about. Clearly there are differences say between Ipswich County Library and the tiny Debenham Library but many libraries and their issues are similar although there are local issues with buildings that need to be taken into account.
So the consultation is finally over - until the next consultation that is! And we are promised at least one more in the Autumn after the initial cabinet decision in July before the final decision is taken in December. It remains to be seen what effect the campaigning and new leadership will have on the outcome. I am personally giving the new administration the benefit of the doubt but watching them closely!
What is certain is that none of us could have predicted back in January that by the end of April Pembroke would be gone as leader following a Spring of protests the like of which have not been seen in Suffolk for a while and a person, Mark Bee, who wasn't even in the cabinet when the consultation started would be there on the final day receiving the last of thousands of consultation responses to file alongside more than 20 000 petition signatures....back in Bungay I saw quite a bit more campaign evidence than usual for the District Council elections with all parties out in force with the Greens in particular making a strong challenge to local conservatives who might have expected to win without much trouble.
This must be what the Conservatives fear for the 2013 County Council elections and maybe this is what in the end will save our libraries.