The Writing Could Be On The Wall (Rather Than The Page) For Many Libraries In Our District

There’s been a lot of press around the proposed library closures by Essex Council Council recently. With a public consultation and numerous petitions running (here is the Lib Dem petition), Rochford Conservatives, Cllrs Mike Steptoe (Deputy Leader) & Terence Cutmore put the following motion on notice at Tuesday’s RDC full council meeting.

MOTION ON NOTICE 1.1 The Proper Officer reports that, pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 13, the following motion has been received from Cllrs M J Steptoe and T G Cutmore:- ‘This Council has noted the review and public consultation that has been launched by Essex County Council in regard to the library provision across the County, including the District of Rochford. The District Council also recognise that the current library service is outdated and needs modernising. We encourage all to respond to the consultation as this will shape the way the future service will be delivered. However, we are mindful that the County Council also has a duty under the 1964 Libraries and Museums Act to provide a library service for our residents. We are largely rural communities and we will endeavour to ensure that Essex County Council also considers this within its review, taking into account the Equality Act 2010 and access to services. Therefore, this Council pledges to work alongside Essex County Council and the local community in both shaping and delivering future library provision throughout the District and will support the retention of a library service in all the current five existing areas in the District .’

It will come as no surprise the devil is in the detail with such a motion and we don’t think this went far enough. This is merely a cost-cutting exercise by ECC. Library services may need to be ‘modernised’ but Essex County Council should fully fund them.

Therefore, this Council pledges to work alongside Essex County Council and the local community in both shaping and delivering future library provision throughout the District and will support the retention of a library service in all the current five existing areas in the District

Rochford District Resident Cllr Christine Mason summed up what is required by her proposed amendment to the motion

Rochford District Council calls on Essex County Council to retain the 5 Libraries in our District as fully funded Library services, maintaining the full digital access that is currently provided and funded, staffed and serviced by Essex County Council in recognition of the community  wishes and needs..

However, it would seem the Conservatives effort is merely playing lip service to the electorate as they would not support the amendment to the motion by Cllr Christine Mason! Unsurprising once again, with several of the RDC Councillors also being ECC Councillors!