Surrey County Council's volunteer library plan to proceed

Library protesters Campaigners have staged protests to show their opposition to the library plans

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Plans for 10 Surrey libraries to be run by volunteers will go ahead despite an earlier bid being ruled unlawful.

The Tory-led county council agreed to proceed after further work on the plan was carried out.

After the judicial review ruling in April, three opposing members called the plans in for reconsideration.

They had wanted to keep one staff member in each library, but the communities select committee ruled plans could go ahead as they were.

'Disappointing' decision

After the meeting, Lib Dem councillor John Orrick said the decision was disappointing and added: "It was clear that the Conservative administration are set on ploughing ahead with their plans."

Conservative councillor Helyn Clack, cabinet member for community services, said: "We can get on with this now and we have been held up for some months of course because of the judicial review and quite rightly so and that took time to go out and get all the evidence we needed to consider."

She said the scheme was about local people making decisions for themselves and it could enhance people's lives, get them involved, raise user numbers and keep libraries sustained.

Lee Godfrey, from Surrey Libraries Action Movement (Slam), which brought the judicial review this year, said the decision was disappointing.

He said the policy did not save any money and he claimed it still did not abide by the judge's ruling, because he said the council still had not consulted with the local community properly.

In April, High Court judge Mr Justice Wilkie ruled the council's decision to use volunteers was unlawful.

It followed a challenge the council had failed to show there would be sufficient equalities training for volunteers.

But the council carried out further consultation on its training plan and also said more than 300 volunteers had already been trained with more to follow.

The libraries affected are Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water and Warlingham.

All 10 are expected to be run by the volunteers by next year.

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