Just before Christmas, myself (Demelza), John and Johanna were invited to meet with Jo Grills and Duncan Jordan of GCC. Jo and Duncan are senior officers within GCC who are now involved in the review and formulation of new plans for the library service. They were not involved in drawing up the previous plans which were declared unlawful by the High Court in November 2011.
While the three of us do not claim to represent the views of all FoGL supporters (the groups is far too large and diverse for that!), this first meeting did offer a good opportunity to share with Jo and Duncan the many serious concerns about the previous review and decision-making process, and library proposals, which were shared with us by library users and supporters across the county over the past year.
This week, we were invited to meet with Jo and Duncan again. They explained to us the process behind the new library review which is taking place at the moment, and which is based on a needs analysis, demographic information on the various library catchment areas, and information obtained during the previous consultation process. The council is also in discussion with the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
It was confirmed that Cabinet will discuss the new proposals for the service on the 20th January. The proposal documents will be publicly available on the GCC website a few days prior to this (probably around Monday 16th). If Cabinet vote to accept the proposals, they will then be put out to public consultation (after the requisite ‘call-in’ period, when opposition councillors have the chance to refer the decision for further council scrutiny).
We were told that (assuming the proposals are approved by council and get through the call-in stage), that the consultation process will take place over six weeks, and that particular efforts will be made to conduct targeted consultation with the groups identified under equalities legislation. The council also plan to allocate a section of their website, where all the consultation and decision-making information documents will be publicly accessible together (we did emphasise that this kind of information also needs to be readily available to those who are not online too).
As soon as the new proposals are available we will post here and circulate. The 20th January Cabinet meeting (10:00am – Shire Hall) where the proposals will be discussed and voted on is open to members of the public.