The council's scrutiny committee has recommended that the key decision on the future of five of Southampton's libraries – due to be taken in public on Tuesday (August 18) from 4.30pm at the Civic Centre – be deferred until September's full council meeting.
• Cobbett Road Library: 'What was the purpose of the huge consultation?'
Cabinet, which consists of eight Labour councillors, is due to decide whether to implement a “preferred option” – largely that put forward at the start of the libraries consultation – which could see council support for five of Southampton's libraries, including Cobbett, withdrawn from April 2016.
Previously, chair of the Friends of Cobbett Road Library (FOCRL) Kevin Lancashire told bitternepark.info he thought proposals should be “discussed in full, rather than just being steamrolled through in August when lots of people are away”.
Last Thursday the council's overview, scrutiny and management committee recommended that Cllr Satvir Kaur, the cabinet member responsible for libraries, should:
- Defer the decision until the next full council meeting in September
- Commit that there be no closures of any libraries until alternative provision is in place
- Clarify policy regarding library buildings should libraries close [the cost of 'mothballing']
- Look at alternative funding sources, for example from the housing revenue account
- Re-look at shared service options with other local authorities
- Look at opportunities for supplementing library funding with pupil premium money and health provider contributions and any other relevant public bodies
- Provide an update on the 'community library process'
Cabinet is not under any obligation to take up these recommendations.
At the scrutiny meeting, where various library friends groups were represented, Cllr Kaur called for talks with friends of library groups, claiming her offer hadn't previously been taken up.
“I'm more than happy for you to come to this meeting and have your say, but there's nothing like a face-to-face, one-to-one conversation,” said Cllr Kaur.
Members of FOCRL and other libraries under threat will be at the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, although unable to speak.
But on their website FOCRL say: “The Friends of Cobbett Road Library remain determined to do all we can to try to keep all libraries open within the Council-run and -staffed service.
You can read more about their view on the current situation here: http://www.cobbettroad.info/save-your-library.html
Meanwhile Burgess Road Library Buddies have tweeted:
Previously - Cobbett Road Library: 'What was the purpose of the huge consultation?'
The report to Cabinet included in the meeting's 344-page "Public Reports Pack of which the papers for Agenda Item 9, The Future of The Southampton Library Service - over 250 pages.
The commissioned report on the consultation exercise conducted by Opinion Research Services – 312 pages
Meetings in August
August council meetings discussing libraries held in public at Civic Centre