Agenda item

Notice of Motion received from Councillors Light and Sell: Library motion

This Council condemns the actions of Essex County Council with regards to the current strategy of overreliance on volunteers to run our libraries and short term and insufficient funding. Council is concerned that this may lead to their eventual closure.

 

Minutes:

 

The Chair brought item 11 forward in proceedings for the benefit of the public present.

 

Councillor Sell proposed the motion as set out in the agenda:

 

This Council condemns the actions of Essex County Council with regards to the current strategy of overreliance on volunteers to run our libraries and short term and insufficient funding. Council is concerned that this may lead to their eventual closure.

 

Councillor Lavelle seconded the motion.

 

Councillor Sell said there had been a big response to ECC’s consultation on libraries and it had been enough to earn libraries across Essex a reprieve. However, he stressed that libraries were not a luxury of local government; they were an investment in people’s futures.

 

Councillor Caton had given notice of an amendment to the motion and proposed the following:

 

This Council condemns the actions of Essex County Council with regards to the proposed strategy of overreliance on volunteers to run our village libraries with short term and insufficient funding. Council is concerned that this may lead to their eventual closure and RESOLVES (1) to demand that ALL libraries in Uttlesford get continued access to Essex Library service computer and management systems, inter-library lending and stock rotation and core paid staff for the foreseeable future and (2) to work with Essex County Council, parish councils and the wider Uttlesford community to achieve this goal.

 

Councillor Sell seconded the amendment. He said the amendment had been proposed to give ‘teeth’ to the motion. He added that volunteer run libraries were not the way forward as they could not offer the professional services of a qualified librarian.

 

Councillor Barker said this motion was very close to breaching the 6 month rule as a similar motion had been submitted to Council on 21 February 2019. She added that Council should not be “demanding” anything from another council and such rhetoric was against the spirit of cooperation. Issues such as the fall in readership and the rise of online tutorials and e-books meant that libraries could not ignore the changing ways in which people accessed information. She would not be supporting the motion or the amendment.

 

Councillor Khan said libraries were still places of learning and community and the ECC proposals were fantastical as volunteers could not be expected to run libraries without professional paid staff supporting them. He would be supporting the amendment.

 

Councillor Gerard said it was a disgrace that ECC were trying to shirk their statutory obligations in providing library services to the people of Uttlesford. He requested that the Chair of Council ask ECC how much the consultation had cost the taxpayer, including the commission of Venture Research to evaluate responses received to the consultation. He said the consultation was disingenuous as there was never any intent to improve services, but rather to justify inevitable cost saving measures. He applauded the efforts of the cross party campaign to push back ECC library proposals. He said the recent proposal to have volunteer run libraries under UDC’s remit was a ploy to reduce library services by stealth. He asked members to condemn ECC’s behavior and called for a recorded vote on the amendment.

 

Councillor Lees said there was nothing incorrect in Council disagreeing with ECC and opposing cost cutting measures that they believed were morally wrong. She would be supporting the motion.

 

Councillor Foley said libraries were important to all demographics and their very existence culturally enriched people’s lives. He said the ECC consultation was flawed and there had been grave concerns regarding Thaxted’s library being classed in tier 4 and therefore earmarked for closure.

 

Councillor Fairhurst said the consultation was a fraudulent exercise and condemned the proposal for volunteer run libraries. He would be supporting the motion.

 

Councillor Caton said Stansted Mountfitchet had invested over a million pounds in their community library building but ECC had not attempted to engage with the parish council over these proposals. He said the language of the amendment was aggressive as ECC had treated the parish of Stansted with a lack of respect.

 

The Chair called for a recorded vote to make the amendment the substantive motion.

 

For

Against

Abstain

Cllr Armstrong

Cllr Barker

Cllr Oliver

Cllr Asker

Cllr Criscione

 

Cllr Bagnall

 

 

Cllr Caton

 

 

Cllr Day

 

 

Cllr De Vries

 

 

Cllr Dean

 

 

Cllr Driscoll

 

 

Cllr Eke

 

 

Cllr Evans

 

 

Cllr Fairhurst

 

 

Cllr Foley

 

 

Cllr Freeman

 

 

Cllr Gerard

 

 

Cllr Hargreaves

 

 

Cllr Isham

 

 

Cllr Jones

 

 

Cllr Khan 

 

 

Cllr Lavelle

 

 

Cllr LeCount

 

 

Cllr Lees

 

 

Cllr Lemon

 

 

Cllr Lodge

 

 

Cllr Loughlin

 

 

Cllr Merifield

 

 

Cllr Pavitt

 

 

Cllr Pepper

 

 

Cllr Sell

 

 

Cllr Storah

 

 

Cllr Sutton

 

 

Cllr Tayler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total:

 

 

31

2

1

 

 

The Chair called for Members to vote on the substantive motion.

 

RESOLVED to:

 

Condemn the actions of Essex County Council with regards to the proposed strategy of overreliance on volunteers to run our village libraries with short term and insufficient funding. Council is concerned that this may lead to their eventual closure and RESOLVES (1) to demand that ALL libraries in Uttlesford get continued access to Essex Library service computer and management systems, inter-library lending and stock rotation and core paid staff for the foreseeable future and (2) to work with Essex County Council, parish councils and the wider Uttlesford community to achieve this goal.

 

Supporting documents: