Surrey scales back volunteer-run library plans

Surrey scales back volunteer-run library plans

Surrey County Council has ditched plans for nine of its libraries to become volunteer-run.

Nineteen of Surrey's 52 libraries were under threat of closure unless volunteers stepped forward to run them, but yesterday (29th September), leader of the Conservative Surrey County Council, councillor David Hodge, announced that nine of the libraries would remain council-run.

However 10 further libraries, including Ewell Court, Stoneleigh and Tattenhams, will still become community led. Hodge gave a "guarantee" that an experienced member of the council's library team would be present in all community-led libraries for at least 20% of their opening hours, Your Local Guardian reports.

Councillor John Orrick, the Liberal Democrat communities' spokesperson on Surrey County Council, said: "Liberal Democrats have consistently argued for many years that all of Surrey's libraries should remain open.

"We have argued against two tiers of library, with no second class libraries, and we want professionals at the heart of Surrey's library network."

He added that the change of heart was an admittance that the idea of community-run libraries is "disastrous" and urged for the whole plan to be "scrapped". He added: "Throwing the 10 threatened libraries a crumb from the table of one member of staff for one fifth of their opening hours will do little to remove fears of a downgraded service and eventual closure."

Speaking at the council meeting, Hodge referred to the "world [economic] situation" and added "if at times we are being asked at some stage in the future to cut back on what we have already planned we may have to revisit things again".

The council will continue to run 42 of 52 libraries across the county.