Following SPRA’s survey of members and the submission made to Council in response to the consultation, we can report some progress. The Committee was contacted by Cllr Olly Lewis (the Cabinet member for Libraries and Rob Hunt a lead Council officer) to discuss our report. On 15 March, a productive meeting by Zoom gave SPRA the opportunity to voice its views, seeking to protect a library on its current site within Shirley. We were also able to receive useful information about the libraries reorganisation.
In essence, the Council has devised four options, ranging from outright closure of the five branches at risk, to a proposal to seek outside contractors to run the Libraries, all with the aim of making a targeted £0.5m saving. The Council’s Scrutiny Committee has since asked them to reduce the number of options from four possible to two preferred options, for consideration at the Cabinet meeting on 17 May. If approved, these two options would then form the basis of the 2nd public consultation. SPRA is unhappy with this approach. We believe all four options should be put to consultation to allow maximum transparency and feedback from the community and have said so.
We will post further updates here.