We have been informed that it is very unlikely there will be a full Council vote on our demand for a review of the proposals for our library service at the County Council meeting tomorrow, where our 12,000 signature-strong petition will be under debate.
Apparently Council and opposition leaders, and the council’s monitoring officers who are responsible for ensuring legality of council processes, have been in discussions about this for much of yesterday afternoon. The conclusion seems to have been reached that as the libraries fall within the wider budget decision-making process, it is the responsibility of Cabinet, and not full Council. Therefore it is not appropriate, legally speaking, for the full Council to vote on this, as if the vote were to go in our favour (i.e. requesting a review) this would not be deliverable, as this is straying into the remit of Cabinet.
What is most likely to happen, is that full Council will debate our petition and the points it raises. The statements made in this discussion will then be ‘fed in’ to the Cabinet meeting on the 2nd February and inform the discussion, which will be presented back to full Council for the final decision-making meeting on the 16th February.
Opposition Councillors are not happy about the lack of a vote, and if they make a fuss there may be a vote of some kind. This will function to inform the Cabinet of full Council opinion though, rather than securing anything concrete.
We have been informed of this at the last-minute, and it seems there is a lot of uncertainty and confusion over the handling of petitions generally (the Friends of the Earth incinerator petition which is also under discussion in the meeting tomorrow will be treated in the same way).
We are of course very disappointed that it does not look as though there will be a vote tomorrow on whether to commission a review, but the petition will still achieve its goal of getting this issue debated properly at Council, and gathering lots of interest in the wider public arena.
If the Cabinet do not take the petition concerns into account at their meeting they will be publicly ignoring the views of over 12,000 members of the public – more than double the number who answered the original ‘consultation’ which has apparently so heavily influenced their decision-making so far!
It is more important than ever now, that as many people as possible come to lobby outside the meeting, and attend the meeting itself – a show of strength of public opinion is really crucial tomorrow.
As mentioned in a County Council press release today, a high turnout is expected so the meeting will be ticketed. Tickets will be available on a first-come-first-served basis from 09:00 at Shire Hall reception, and supporters will be meeting from 09:00 outside Shire Hall.
Hope to see many of you there tomorrow for what should be an interesting and eventful morning!