Liberal Democrat councillors, who along with many resident groups have led the opposition to the Mayor’s library closure programme, have welcomed today’s statement that the decision to proceed has been halted to consider other options.
Cllr Anthony Negus, Chair of the all-party library scrutiny group, said: “It is a good sign that the Mayor is listening at last to the consultation, the many thousands of people who signed the petitions and our motion passed by full council. I welcome this move and will be contacting the Mayor and Deputy Mayor to offer ways in which the whole council can contribute to an alternative and sustainable way forward.”
At last night’s full council meeting, the Lib Dem’s motion calling on the administration to explore mutual ownership models for the library service was passed after a passionate debate before a packed public gallery, and followed the success of three separate petitions calling on the council to rethink its proposals to close 17 of the city’s 27 libraries.
During the debate, Lib Dem Councillor Anthony Negus argued passionately for the retention of the city’s library network, saying “We have only one chance to get this right. If we lose the libraries now, we will never get them back.”
Today Bristol City Council will discuss a last ditch rescue plan for 17 Bristol libraries threatened with closure put forward by Liberal Democrat councillors.
The Full Council meeting is expected to be crunch time for Bristol’s libraries with three major petitions as well as other smaller petitions calling for the Mayors proposed closure programme to be halted.
But Liberal Democrat Councillors have secured the council’s Golden Motion and used this to put forward an alternate plan to mass closure. You can read it here.
In an unprecedented step, Bristol’s three opposition parties have united in calling on the Council’s External Auditor to step in and investigate the circumstances surrounding the controversial departure of the former Chief Executive, Anna Klonowski.
The City Council's Overview and Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB) meeting on Thursday night was very interesting for a number of reasons. Specifically the report on the sustainability of libraries prepared by the Task and Finish Group chaired by Lib Dem councillor Anthony Negus was endorsed by all the members of OSMB and even praised by the Cabinet member with indications that it will be listened to, including the advice that it would form part of the report to Cabinet and that some money had been found for some initial consultancy work on examining this as a viable option.
Liberal Democrat councillors are urging Bristol’s Labour Mayor Marvin Rees, to consider their plan to rescue Bristol’s libraries from closure.
Mayor Marvin Rees, who marched against cuts on Saturday, is currently considering responses to his plans for libraries which would see two thirds of libraries permanently closed and opening hours of surviving libraries slashed. The cuts are some of the deepest proposed for any library service in the country.
Bristol City Council has recently parted company with the third Chief Executive to be in post since Mayor Rees took over.
It must be said, that although Cllr Richard Eddy and I have very different political opinions and disagree on many subjects in Council, we share between us 40 years of Council experience and many years of experience in Recruitment and Council HR matters. I have discussed this matter with him.
The City Council Lib Dem group have criticised this 5-part exercise consulting on cuts to council services from Libraries, to School Crossing Patrol and Public Toilets. Excluding the Community Links section, the neighbourhood elements make a single, desperate, proposal with some tweaks and only the loss of public conveniences has a suggestion of mitigation. This stark presentation discourages the secondary objective of asking for ideas. After speaking with the all-party Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Commission that he chairs, Cllr. Anthony Negus presented their resolution that this consultation was flawed to the Mayor's cabinet. Unfortunately these criticisms were not accepted.
View the webcast - click on "WATCH" next to agenda item 6 on the right hand side.
The Cabinet's handling of this matter has been confusing from start to finish. The report now admits that the first plan was to close the pool and this was what was said would happen in the Cabinet Report and the Full Council Cabinet decision. This stance was backed up by a disgraceful 4 page hatchet job masquerading as an Equalities Impact Assessment.
I am very glad that the Council's position has changed but it is regrettable that uncertainty hung over Jubilee for so long. This has not been helpful to the operators who rely on selling new and renewed annual memberships and were delayed in their marketing campaign. Fortunately the huge local show of support gave them confidence and of course helped to get a satisfactory sign off.
So while Cllr Asher Craig proudly proclaimed her widely derided "Communities Consultation" a great success, the Mayor made many of his usual speeches about how wonderfully the Administration was doing despite the impossible financial pressures imposed by Central Government, a worrying piece of news was exposed by questions from Lib Dem Cllr Jos Clark.