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Agenda, decisions and minutes

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Contact: John Williams  020 8496 4344 | Email: john.williams@walthamforest.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Steve Terry.

 

It was noted that Councillor Paul Douglas was substituting for Councillor Steve Terry.

2.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members are required to declare any pecuniary or non-pecuniary interest they or their spouse/partner may have in any matter that is to be considered at this meeting.  Interests are defined in the front cover of this agenda.

Minutes:

None. With regard to Item 5, Councillor Fitzgerald said that Hale End Library was located in her ward, Hatch Lane, and she had received representations on the matter.

3.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION

Members of the public are welcome to participate in scrutiny meetings.  You may speak for three minutes on a topic related to the Committee’s work, and fifteen minutes in total is allowed for public speaking, at the discretion of the Chair.  If you would like to speak, please contact Democratic Services (details above) by 12 noon on the day before the meeting.

 

 

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Committee invited the following members of the public to speak regarding the Cabinet decision on the Library Local Improvement Programme:

 

Graham Reeve

Dr Georgina Clifford

Mike Payne

 

They raised the following concerns regarding the Library Local Improvement Programme:

 

·         Factual errors contained in the Cabinet Report of 12 July 2016;

·         That the current site of Hale End Library could be demolished and replaced with flats;

·         That Hale End Library should remain where it is for the sake of the immediate community; and

·         The value of libraries in general as a community hub not associated with religion or alcohol.

 

 

 

4.

RESPONSE TO CALL-IN: LIBRARY LOCAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

1.            The Committee noted the report and welcomed:

1.1       The deferral of the proposals for the Hale End library.

1.2       The engagement with users and non- users of Hale End library in the meantime; and

1.3       Noted that no action will be taken to progress the proposals for Hale End library for up to 12 months to enable that engagement to take place.

Accordingly the Committee confirmed the Cabinet decision on this basis and asked the Chair to write to the Leader accordingly.

2.         The Committee also:

2.1       Requested that the Audit and Governance Committee consider carrying out a review of the call-in procedure.

2.2       Recorded Councillor Fitzgerald’s request (made under paragraph 5.3 of the current Overview and Scrutiny procedure rules) that an item be placed on the relevant scrutiny committee agenda for an update on the Hale End library proposals before any further report is put to Cabinet.

Minutes:

The Committee noted the request for call-in at Appendix 2 to the report, although in view of the Cabinet’s decision on 12 July 2016 to extend the consultation period and to reserve the right to take the final decision, some Members questioned the need for the call-in. However, there remained some concern about discrepancies in the report to Cabinet, particularly with regard to accessibility, and the level of public interest in the proposal was acknowledged.  Members welcomed the greater level of detail provided.

Councillor Rackham said that though sometimes changes are necessary, the accessibility and popularity of the current library were good enough reasons for the library to remain where it was.  Councillor Moss felt that the initial proposal should have been consulted on more widely before going to Cabinet.  He also questioned the financial basis of any proposed move to the Tesco site and its sustainability.

Councillor Naheed Asghar, Junior Lead Member, introduced the Library Local officer team, and welcomed the cabinet decision to pause for further consultation with the community as a whole, while acknowledging the need to progress proposals on the other three Library Local sites.

The Strategic Director for Neighbourhoods and Commercial Services said she wrote the cabinet report and took responsibility for any factual errors, for which she apologised.  These had been corrected in advance of the Cabinet meeting.  She stood by the proposals and said that consultation formed an integral part of the process that would take the views of Councillors and residents seriously, and was not due to the call-in.

Having heard representations, the Committee proceeded to consider the matter.  Councillor Fitzgerald felt that any decision of the Committee had been pre-empted by a letter from the Leader of the Council to say the matter would be deferred.  She also asked whether negotiations for the use of a vacant site near Tesco would continue.  Ms Moloney stressed that this was a proposal and a costed option, but that nothing was ruled in or ruled out.  However, the process of engagement was hampered by the notion that the community would be losing its library, which was not the case, although the location had become a sticking point.  She added that the negotiations had now ended.

Councillor Fitzgerald was not entirely satisfied with the responses.  It was therefore clarified that changes involving Hale End Library would come before the Committee before a decision was made, and that the Director of Asset Management would write to her concerning the negotiations with Tesco.

Despite continued pressure on government finances, the Vice-Chair underlined the importance of having a good library at the heart of a sustainable community.

Councillor Mitchell welcomed deferral and expressed interest in plans to increase library use in Hale End and Highams Park.

Councillor Douglas acknowledged that in any process, there had to be an initial proposal.  He was delighted that so many people had attended the meeting.  However, in light of the call-in of the cabinet decision to consult, as Chair of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.