UNISON is warning Devon County Council not to let the consultation responses it received on its proposals for the future of the library service to fall on deaf ears.
The union’s warning comes after the Council released figures last week on the number of people who took part in the consultation.
Andy Bowman, Branch Chair at UNISON Devon County Branch, said: “Whilst it’s great that thousands of people have responded, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the response rate was so high because the people of Devon are seriously concerned about the Council’s proposals and they don’t want to see services cut and libraries closed.
“Consultation should be meaningful but the Council’s ruling Conservative administration hasn’t got an exemplary record when it comes to genuinely listening to the views of others. It banned key council officers, trade unions, families and carers from giving evidence at its scrutiny meeting back in June on the decision to close residential care homes and day care centres. We don’t want to see the same level of disregard dished out to library campaigners.
"The Council says it is being open-minded. We hope this is the case and that people’s concerns don’t fall on deaf ears. It would be a travesty if the consultation was just an elaborate tick box exercise and decisions had already been made behind closed doors.”
Libraries are a vital public service, much-loved by both young and old alike. They help parents on low incomes get their kids into books; provide free access to computers; and act as meeting place for the elderly, and mums, dads and carers with young children.
Devon County Council’s proposals for the future of the library service include creating 22 'Devon Centres' at the county’s busiest libraries and 28 'community-led' smaller libraries in an attempt to cut its library budget by £1.5 million.
Consultation responses are currently being collated by senior Managers and Councillors, and will inform a report and recommendations that will go before the Council's Cabinet in October