This decision about the third floor of the library is political.
The decision has now been called into full council.
The people's voice has been heard and on the political front Daniel Zeichner is now part of the campaign over the Central Library third floor.
Well it seems that everything wasn't quite proper when the negotiations were taking place. Kora's representative has a cloud over his head and the decision was first suspended and then County Councillors answered a call from Ashley Walsh Labour's leader in the county to put the matter before full council (see below). We shall see what happens next.
Ashley Walsh (Leader of the Labour Group at County Council says
I and other Labour councillors have decided to request a further call-in
of the decision made about Cambridge Central Library at the Highways and
Community Infrastructure Committee on Tuesday. The constitution allows
two routes of call-in: to General Purposes Committee and, alternatively,
to full council. For the decision to be reviewed at full council, we
need 24 members to sign up.
The decision is highly controversial and was passed with a tiny majority
of one, relying on the votes of councillors who represent divisions
nowhere near Cambridge. Conservative members of the committee were
clearly whipped on the decision - indeed, the only group to be whipped.
Members of the public remain dissatisfied with the poor level of
consultation. Elected members, including myself and Cllr Scutt as my
group's spokesperson, are extremely irritated by the poor level of
communication between officers and councillors as the negotiations and
decisions have been worked up. It is deeply problematic that elected
members had to rely on Freedom of Information requests submitted by the
public to find out about the negotiation process, leading to questions
about the relationship between councillors and officers. Taken together,
all this undermines the democratic legitimacy of the decision and has
caused substantial damage to the authority's reputation.
I am calling on you to ask your members to support our effort to call
the decision into full council. Whatever you or your members might
personally think of the proposals for the third floor of the Central
Library, calling in the decision provides an opportunity for the
authority to recover its reputation as a democratic body. It also allows
us to demonstrate the importance of full council as a forum for the
major issues affecting the county to be decided.
(3-6-15) At a packed meeting at Shire Hall on the 2-6-15 the committee voted by 7 to 6 to go ahead with the changes to the third floor of the library. What came out at the meeting was that officers had been in discussions on this issue since 2014 and that councillors had only been informed in March 2015
(2-6-15) County Council FOI request about their relationship is now out after 70 days
Appears that there were 37 meetings between Kora and Cambridgeshire County Council Officers and it may also be that elected officials were not present or even knew that the meetings were taken place.
Now off to Shire Hall to attend the protest and committee meeting (0830 onwards)
The following appeared on 'Keep Cambridge Library Accessible to all' facebook page - perhaps County Councillors can help to accelerate an answer? (25-5-15)
'This is an update concerning the FOI request by a member of the 38degrees campaign to elicit detailed information around the secret negotiations with Kora. Unless it is postponed a third time, the request is currently due to be answered in 70 days!!!!
Please ask your elected
Councillors to respond to the request, here are the details:
'...we learned recently that the response to a FOI request made by one of our members was postponed a second time. A council officer promised a response on 29 May, the Friday before the decisive committee meeting and over 70 days after the request was originally made. Here is the full text of the request:
In relation to the proposed occupation by Kora of the third floor of Cambridge City public library, and any other proposed contracts with Kora, how many meetings have been conducted between representatives of Kora and the county council, who has attended these meetings (elected members and officers of the council), and where have these meetings taken place. In addition can the council provide minutes, and agenda for all such meetings.
Further to the above has any elected member of the council, or officer of the council received any form of hospitality from Kora, or its parent group including lunches associated with meetings as described above.
Perhaps you’ll want to join us in telling the County Council how much we’re all looking forward to their response.'
I was joined by Anna Smith and spoke at the meeting in the library on the 6th May. The main point I wanted to make was that this is a political matter. This did not exactly meet with universal support and some people called out that we should not bring politics into this (20-5-15).
HOWEVER, as I said at the start, 'This problem is political' so much so that Cambridge City Council called for the matter to go back to committee.
The City Council was not alone in this call and luckily we are going to get a second bite at changing this decision: a decision made by a committee mostly comprising of politicians from outside of the city.
The people of Cambridge have to stand together in asking for the library and its collections to stay as they are.
We should also ask for a greater say in the running of the library.
Speak out, lobby support, particularly from Daniel Zeichner
Also, put the date of the next meeting in your diary. Then you can attend the meeting on the 2nd June and make your voices heard.