As detailed elsewhere, on 27th March, shortly after Coun. Charmley in splendid isolation decided that the town centre library should be closed down and relocated to the school on the outskirts of town, members of the Library Support Group met Philip Dunne at his mobile surgery in the Lion Meadow car park.
After the Group had acquainted him with the background to the campaign and handed him a copy of our response to the “consultation”, Mr. Dunne said he would be in touch with Shropshire Council over the matter and seek replies to the points we had raised with him.
At his request, Hazel Whitehouse of the Support Group subsequently e-mailed Mr. Dunne, setting out the points we wished to have answered, not least of which being why, when Shropshire Council were positively encouraging community groups in other parts of the county to take over the running of their libraries, our own proposals to do so were dismissed, Church Stretton apparently being treated differently from other communities in Shropshire. It should be added that the Support Group were independently seeking the same information from Shropshire Council, with no success.
On 16th April George Candler, Shropshire Council’s Director of Commissioning, replied to Mr. Dunne ostensibly giving the reasons behind the library decision. Mr. Dunne forwarded to Hazel Mr. Candler’s reply and it can be read here
Among the most significant passages is the reason given by Mr. Candler for the rejection of the Support Group’s proposal of a community group take-over of the library in its current location:
“There is no reference in their proposal as to how a service delivered by the community would be able to deliver an early help and preventative role that will be vital in reducing demand on other services. This role is paramount in the future delivery of library services…”
In response to this, Madeline Haigh of the Support Group has e-mailed Mr. Candler:
“We would be most grateful if you would refer us to the section in the council’s public consultation documents which specified this as an essential component of any alternative option for the future of the library”
Throughout the course of this campaign, most of us have become used to Shropshire Council’s policy of making up the rules as they go along, this being just the latest example.