A series of events being carried out by B&NES Council to gather residents’ views on the future of the area’s Mobile Library Service have been branded a ‘farce’ by the area’s Conservative councillors.
Conservatives have criticised the Lib Dem-run council’s decision to hold the public meetings after the close of the Council’s own consultation date. This means that residents who attend the public meetings to air their views and find out more information about the Council’s plans will have already missed the chance to submit their comments in the council’s official consultation.
The consultation and public meets are being held to give residents the opportunity to give their views on a plan by the council’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet to axe the area’s Mobile Library service.
The Council’s consultation into the future of the Library service ends on the 20th January for members of the public, and the 10th of February for Parish Councils to submit their views. However, public meetings have been arranged for the 17th of January in Batheaston, the 24th of January in Chew Magna, and the 31st January in Peasedown.
Conservative councillors have said these dates make a nonsense of the public engagement exercise and are calling on the council to extend the consultation for all residents to the 10th of February.
Cllr Martin Veal, the Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said:
“Holding these public meetings after the close of the Council’s consultation on the Mobile Library service makes a mockery of this so-called consultation exercise. How are people meant to give their views on the consultation at the meetings if the deadline has already passed? The first meeting gives residents just two days to send in their consultation responses, whilst the other two dates are actually past the consultation’s closing date, so if they express a view it will not be registered. What’s more, the consultation document doesn’t even ask a straightforward question on whether residents would like to see the Mobile Library retained or not. It’s a complete farce and is taking residents for fools.
“The Mobile Library is valued by residents throughout the area, both young and old, from elderly people to families to Primary School pupils. Yet the Liberal Democrats are giving the impression they aren’t taking the issue seriously. I would urge as many residents as possible to get in their consultation responses in support of the Mobile Library before the 20th of January, though I am calling on the council to extend this date.”