Second Surrey library taken over by volunteers

Workers at a second Surrey library have been replaced by volunteers after the county council decided to remove paid staff.

Last year it agreed the plans, despite resistance from opposition councillors and the Surrey Libraries Action Movement group (SLAM).

The New Haw branch is the second of 10 libraries becoming volunteer-run.

The council said it was continuing to provide the libraries' buildings, books, computers and free wi-fi.

The Conservative-run Surrey County Council's original blueprint was regarded as a way of keeping all 52 of the county's libraries open, while helping save up to £381,000 a year.

'Brave endeavour'

In May, a council spokesperson said: "Asking communities to help run 10 of our smaller branches is not about making savings.

"We asked communities to come forward to help us unlock the full potential of these libraries."

Carol Deakins, chairman of New Haw Library Community Partnership, said: "It's been a long haul and we're really pleased to launch.

"This provides a real opportunity to find out what people want from their local library and we'll be going out into the community to talk to them and find out."

The volunteers at the New Haw branch plan to hire out rooms at the back of the library to stage events such as meetings, book clubs and classes.

Lee Godfrey, from SLAM, called on Surrey County Council to pilot the voluntary staff scheme at the Byfleet and New Haw libraries before it was rolled out to the other eight libraries.

He added: "We wish Byfleet and New Haw volunteers the very best of luck in their brave endeavour to keep their libraries open after Surrey County Council removed their paid staff, even though removing the paid staff has not and will not save any money."

The other libraries that will become volunteer-run are in Bagshot, Bramley, Ewell Court, Lingfield, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water and Warlingham.

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