Chapter 1 of Suffolk library saga ends as Cabinet adopts "vision" for Libraries

Like most people interested in politics I have been glued to the more and more unbelievable events in London around the Murdochs today so sorry my report from Cabinet at Ipswich today is a bit delayed!

In a much more controlled and easy to follow meeting Suffolk County Council Cabinet surprised nobody by adopting the new vision for libraries proposed by Judy Terry.

We had more assurances that the current network of libraries in Suffolk are "saved". Judy Terry gave a more convincing performance than at the County Council and was able to give some reassurances to campaigners. I welcome her commitment to publish the Expressions of Interest and hope we will see this soon.

Mark Bee repeated his assurance at the County Council that the final plans agreed by Cabinet in November would go back to full Council in December.

There is to be a workshop soon to look at structural models and begin the work that will culminate in a decision by cabinet of one of the three models to accept in November. Judy Terry welcomed an offer from the Save Suffolk Libraries campaign to take part in the workshop which was another positive outcome.

Judy Terry has assured us that all three plans will be looked at fairly and assessed against "best value" criteria.

Lib Dem councillor Caroline Page suggested that the best value criteria should be published in advance which is an excellent suggestion that Judy Terry I think genuinely missed (although she was busy scoring the only annoying partisan point at that point).

So we now have a sense of a way forward. Expressions of interest to be published now, workshop in September, discussions about pilots of locally devolved libraries (and Stradbroke, Eye and Debenham together were mentioned more than once as a potential pilot) final decisions on structure and the results of the mobile library consultation in November and a final Council meeting in December. Any new structure and pilots look likely to begin in April 2012.

Whilst I don't think it is time to pop the champagne there are signs emerging that some more trust might emerge between the Council and campaigners and that at least we can start to talk to each other.

So the first chapter of the Suffolk library sage ends and it was a stormy and twisting tale that began back in January with the consultation publication.

The second chapter now begins and I hope that it is a more peaceful story with some more dialogue than action. But one thing is for sure, this isn't over yet!
Suffolk County Council 2710442784935492984

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