Question mark over Surrey library changes

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Elderly resident using a mobile library - generic
Image caption,
The county council has proposed changes to 11 of its 52 public libraries across Surrey

A decision to axe Surrey's mobile library service and hand 11 other libraries over to community volunteers is to be looked at again.

The residents' association and independent group at Conservative-run Surrey County Council has succeeded in getting the decision "called in".

It means the safer and stronger communities committee will re-examine it at a meeting to be held in public.

The council has said it wants to have a "core branch network" of libraries.

A Surrey County Council spokesman said the select committee would consider the decision taken by cabinet and "may make recommendations for changes" which will then be considered by the cabinet on 1 March.

The date for the public meeting is yet to be confirmed, but is expected to be later this month.

The decision to axe the mobile library and allow 11 others to be run by volunteers was made by the county council cabinet last week.

'Poorly handled'

Four of the libraries affected are in divisions represented by the residents' association and independent group - Ewell Court, Molesey, Stoneleigh and Tattenhams.

The others are New Haw, Warlingham, Byfleet, Bramley, Lingfield, Bagshot and Virginia Water.

"Important factors, such as social deprivation, haven't been considered anywhere near as well as they should have been in making the decision to put libraries such as Ewell Court forward to be run by volunteers," said Councillor Jan Mason.

"The area has a fantastic record of community involvement in public services and with the right support I'm sure running a library would be possible."

Councillor David Wood said: "The move to ask the community to run some libraries has been poorly handled.

"I have real concerns about whether the efficiency savings that are being suggested will actually outweigh the potential outcomes, which for many libraries may well be closure."

The council has said it is under pressure to balance its budget and wants to run a 21st Century library service.

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