Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Campaigners cautiously optimistic after huge council U-turn on libraries

Save Botley Library's Neil Clark (centre), plus Botley library users Bashir El-Barhdadr (left) and Bill Cook (right) celebrate the good news.

The Oxford Mail reports:

ALL of Oxfordshire’s 43 libraries could be saved from closure under the new proposals unveiled yesterday.
The county council gave in after an unprecedented public backlash against a plan revealed last November to end funding for 20 branches.
It is now pledging to provide free buildings, book stocks, access to the council’s computer network and professional support from librarians to all of Oxfordshire’s libraries.
A core list of 22 libraries, including seven on the council’s original hit list, (BOTLEY LIBRARY IS ON THE 'CORE LIST' )would remain fully staffed in order to meet the council’s duty in law to provide a “comprehensive and efficient”library service.
A consultation on the new plan will last four months and no changes would be implemented until the start of the 2012-13 financial year next April.

Neil Clark, of Save Botley Library, said: “We wanted all along to keep Botley Library as a professionally run, fully-staffed public library, and I’m happy that it will be. “But as a group in solidarity with other libraries, we do not want to see any forced to take volunteers.”

He added: “We argued all the way through that the original plans were in complete breach of the council’s legal requirements, and now we feel vindicated.
“The whole thing has been really badly handled by the council.”

You can read the whole report here.

Also, another Oxford Mail report on the council's huge - and very welcome- U-turn can be read here.

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