Libraries' future to be debatedBy Caroline Cook
November 17, 2011
The future of Wokingham’s libraries will be up for discussion again this week after a public petition secured enough signatures to prompt a full council debate.
Wokingham Borough councillors will be talking about the future of the borough’s 10 libraries at a meeting of the full council tonight after more than 2,300 people signed a petition against plans to put the management of the libraries out to tender.
The council’s executive approved proposals in June this year to seek a private organisation to take over the running of the libraries in a bid to save £170,000 a year.
But the move prompted a huge backlash from library users and a campaign and petition were launched by Liberal Democrats Anthony Vick and Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey.
If a petition attracts more than 1,500 signatures it must be taken back to the council for a debate according to the council’s constitution.
Council members will be discussing the matter at a meeting of the full council on Thursday when Ms Shepherd-DuBey and Anthony Vick will also have the chance to speak.
Councillor UllaKarin Clark, executive member for internal services, welcomed the debate and said the council was looking forward to discussing the issue.
She said: “We share the passion that those who have signed these petitions have for libraries and that is why we are exploring the option of finding an expert partner to help us safeguard our libraries for the future.
“The issues will be discussed on November 17, and we do not want to pre-empt those deliberations, but we can say we are looking forward to an open debate that will, we hope, provide an opportunity for us to allay some of the more worrying fears that have built up around this issue.
“We are currently in a competitive dialogue process with potential library partners and cannot discuss details of these discussions. But many exciting and innovative ideas have come forward that could build on what is offered at our libraries.”