Surrey County Council halts library group email filter

Surrey County Council has apologised and reversed its decision to allow councillors to filter emails from the leader of a library campaign group.

The Conservative-run authority said it had been "wrong" to allow members to screen messages from Mike Alsop of the Surrey Library Action Movement (SLAM).

Liberal Democrats called the decision to stop the emails going straight into councillor inboxes "undemocratic".

SLAM is campaigning to stop 10 Surrey libraries losing paid staff.

'Money-wasting effort'

A Surrey County Council spokesman said: "We have to be strong enough to recognise when we have got something wrong and in this case we have.

"We value people's views and Mr Alsop's emails will now arrive straight into inboxes, instead of councillors having the option of opening them.

"People's opinions are always considered when a decision is made and this was the case with the recent decision to change the libraries policy, which was heavily informed by the opinions of library users."

In a statement on its website, SLAM said: We are very pleased that this latest attempt to avoid listening to the concerns of Surrey Residents over the controversial and money-wasting effort to diminish the library service has failed.

"In truth, this bungle is just the latest example of bad government from David Hodge's Conservative administration.

"We are very grateful for the support we have received on this issue from the many groups and residents that have stood up for us, and for democracy."

Before the authority reversed its decision, Liberal Democrat leader councillor Hazel Watson said: "It is fundamental to democracy that members of the public, constituents, Surrey businesses and local organisations can communicate freely with elected members.

"The heavy handed decision to decide that e-mails from SLAM are spam is undemocratic and unacceptable."

The Conservative-run county council agreed in September to devolve responsibilities at 10 libraries to help save up to £381,000 a year.

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