The MP responsible for libraries (Ed Vaizey) released a far reaching Review of libraries just before Christmas, having sat on it for two months.
Our County Council has gone one better, leaving it until the last Full Council of the year (19th December) to push through a vote removing the “option for a petition to trigger a debate at Council”.
You may remember that 23,000 Lincolnshire taxpayers and voters signed a petition against the County Council’s proposals to close libraries unless volunteers came forward, and there was a debate as a result of that and two other similar petitions. Previously, any petition with 3,500 signatures would automatically trigger a 15-minute full council debate.
This new move means a spokesperson will be allowed five minutes to speak about the petition at a full council meeting, with no requirement for councillors to discuss what is said.
Like Ed Vaizey’s attempt with the Review, Councillor Hill expects this to get under the radar. However, it is far too important a part of our democracy to let go.
I would remind all residents that this is the same County Council alliance of Conservatives and Lib Dems who have demonstrated their take on democracy by refusing to listen to thousands of us who opposed their proposals in last summer’s consultation; refused to listen when we pointed out the mistakes they had made with the Consultation and their closed mindedness; refused to listen to our lawyers before the High Court Judicial Review, and still refuse to listen to the High Court Judge’s ruling that their decision is quashed.
Remember also that the Council’s Executive meets to discuss the future shape of our library service on the 3rd February. What hope is there for a change of heart from those nine councillors?
There is also a Special Scrutiny Committee which will debate the library service before this meeting. It takes place on 27th January, in the morning. Whether or not you support libraries,
I would encourage anyone who wants a Council which is democratic to see for themselves how our elected representatives work. Turn up at the meetings, watch and listen.