Consultation over library cuts ‘biased’ row

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CAMPAIGNERS battling plans to close 14 branch libraries have accused Doncaster Council of skewing consultation against keeping them open.

The protest organisation Save Doncaster Libraries believes consultation has not been wide enough and has been designed to limit the number of responses produced.

Now it has written to the council raising a list of 13 concerns over the process.

Spokeswoman Lauren Smith said only households very close to the affected libraries were being send consultation questionnaires.

She said: “We don’t have confidence that the people who are carrying out the exercise are doing it properly.

“The process just seems so biased towards the closure of the libraries.”

Lauren has raised concerns that the information put out with questionnaires says of the council does not hear from an individual it will take the view that they do not require access to a library service in their community.

Concerns over closure plans were raised by the all party Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.

Mr Davies deferred the closure for a year for more consultation after the concerns had been raised, giving community groups the chance to take branches on.

Julie Grant, council assistant director responsible for libraries, said: “We have provided a questionnaire to every household in the 14 areas so they can have their say on the future of their library and of any impact an alternative way of delivering the service will have upon them.

“We are encouraging everyone who has received a questionnaire to respond, otherwise we will not know their views.

“Other means such as focus groups will be used to gain views and details of these groups will be announced in the near future.

“Due to the government-imposed spending cuts, the council has no option but to review our current library service and identify where savings can be made, while improving and changing the way that libraries are run, making them a sustainable service for the future.”