Shirley Burnham : Cabinet Meeting : 22nd July 2009
QUESTIONS TO CABINET & ANSWERS : SHIRLEY BURNHAM : 22 JULY 2009
Question : Shirley Burnham
"The Value for Money Savings Report 2009/10 included Liden Library in its list of 9 libraries for potential closure or manning with volunteers. After this document was leaked by myself at a Cabinet Meeting on 11th March 2009, statements were made by Councillors and Officers that the report was irrelevant and did not represent Cabinet policy. However, correspondence recently released under a Freedom of Information Act request to the MLA suggests that the Council considered taking out an Injuction to suppress that report.Will the Lead Member please reveal whether members of Cabinet did, indeed, discuss the Value for Money Report (either formally or informally) before 11th March 2009, confirm whether there have, since mid-March, been any discussions behind the scenes about replacing paid staff at Liden Library with volunteers, and confirm that none of the recommendations of the recent ERS Review will be ignored ?
The Deputy Leader Responded :
Thank you for your question. The confidential Value for Money report, which I understand was leaked to you by Tim Coates, for which the Council has now received a written apology, was one of many discussion papers considered by officers as part of the budget preparation process. To the best of my knowledge it was never presented to Cabinet as an option and to keep repeating it as though it were a substantive policy proposal is very misleading.
With regard to your second point, I can assert that the Council did not feel the need to take out an injuction.
There have been no discussions to replace paid staff at Liden Library with volunteers. There have been discussions to co-locate Swindon Community Radio at the library when the Library Acquisitions Unit vacates its part of the premises.
The ERS report will be considered fully in the formulation of a library strategy. The Constitution requires the Council to take into account all relevant information and not just one single report.
Supplementary Question : Shirley Burnham
"The ERS report paints a picture of a dysfunctional library service in Swindon. Residents are being punished for the Council's failings. The criticism therein is of such gravity that senior officers should be prompted to apologise to Swindon taxpayers or resign. Does the Lead Member agree ?"
The Deputy Leader's Answer :
The Deputy Leader, Councillor Fionuala Foley, responded that she is completely satisfied with the Council's Libraries management team.