Suffolk Scrutiny Committee says "Thank you" and makes Recommendations on Libraries

Cllr Colin Hart
Chairman of Scrutiny Committee
As I already reported library campaigners including myself attended the Scrutiny Committee meeting of Suffolk County Council on Tuesday. Colin Hart the Chairman has issued a statement saying "thank you" to those who contributed on Tuesday.
"I would like to thank all the witnesses and members of the public who took the time and trouble to come and tell the committee of their concerns over the future of Suffolk's libraries. This was a valuable exercise in scrutinising an issue before decisions are taken and I hope and expect our recommendations will make a positive contribution to the new policy that is being developed."
It is worth remembering that as Colin Hart says this was new ground in that they scrutinised and made recommendations before a decision has been made. Whatever the shortcomings in the scrutiny process this is certainly a step forward.

Judy Terry, although not saying sorry as I suggested in my earlier blogpost has also thanked those that attended on Tuesday:
"I am extremely grateful for the comments from committee members, representatives of various campaign groups and those who have submitted bids. We’re continuing to listen and will base future policy on exhaustive consultation with the people of Suffolk."
 I am hopeful that there is now an opportunity for all sides to sit down and discuss the situation and work together for the good of the counties libraries.

I think the Scrutiny Committee could have gone into more detail especially on the consultation process but there is much to welcome in the recommendations they have released. Having taken, as Suffolk acknowledge, the time and trouble to attend and give evidence I am pleased to see several of the suggestions we made included.

Here are the full recommendations to Cabinet (which meets on 19th July):
  • The classification of County Libraries and Community Libraries referred to in the Consultation document is not a reasonable basis for a policy
  • The potential community interest company agrees individual budgets for each library;
  • The business case considered by Cabinet should clearly demonstrate how the community interest company service would operate across the whole of Suffolk;
  • That the Council retain the ability to ensure that the terms offered by the community interest company were sufficient to maintain a sustainable service;
  • Any claims on secondary taxation from Parish, Town, District or Borough Councils be carried out on an equitable basis across Suffolk;
  • Due consideration be given to innovative ideas that have already come forward and any others that are received  from communities on how their services might be run;
  • The policy on mobile libraries be clearly stated in the report to Cabinet;
  • The Council provide absolute clarity to communities interested in running their libraries on issues they were likely to raise such as finance, staffing and legal issues;
  • The Council must satisfy itself on the financial viability of the plans put forward and that they are sustainable.
  • Further expressions of interest are welcome and will be considered.
Campaigners would want to add more to this list but it is a good starting point.
Suffolk County Council 6329454240490830079

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