There will be an update on the Transforming Neighbourhood Services programme.
Attendees were asked to note an update from the Chair:
· Lee Warner, Head of Neighbourhood Services had provided an update as he couldn’t attend the meeting.
· Work had been due to start in the Rushey Mead Recreation Centre but had been delayed and would not now start until January 2018.
· Both the library and the centre would remain as they were until the end of the year.
· The Chair had submitted a question to the meeting of the Council on 5 October, requesting feedback from Cllr Master’s and Cllr Clair’s visit to Soar Valley College as he was not aware of the outcome. The Chair would then raise a supplementary question asking for the decision on the library and recreation centre to be re-considered.
The Chair invited questions from attendees. Very strong feelings were expressed during the ensuing discussion, during which the Chair cautioned that if appropriate he would close the meeting in the interests of public safety.
Comments and questions raised included the following:
· The Democratic Support Officer was asked to note that the opposition amongst attendees, to the decision to move the library to the recreation centre, was unanimous. Action: Democratic Support Officer to record this in the action log.
· Strong concerns were expressed that the Head of Neighbourhood Services was not present at the meeting. The Chair responded that this would be reflected back to him. Action: Community Engagement Officer
· An attendee asked whether the councillors supported residents in opposing the decision. The Chair responded that they did support the residents and had made this clear before, but he and Councillor Patel were backbench councillors and not part of the decision that had been made.
· An attendee said that he understood there were new draft proposals and questioned whether there would be a further consultation. Councillors explained that the council did not have to consult again on the new layout. The consultation that had taken place had not supported the proposals but the council had decided that it did not have the money to support the consultation.
· A representative from one of the user groups said that his group met at the centre nearly every day and he asked the councillors to support them.
· A representative from one of the women’s groups expressed concerns that they believed Councillor Clair was ignoring women because he had met with one of the men’s groups, but not theirs.
· Councillors Patel and Willmott were asked whether they had both met with user groups and they confirmed that they had. The Chair added that the library and recreation centre should be open to all and no user group should be favoured over another.
· In response to a query, the Chair explained that members of the public as well as councillors could ask questions at full council meetings. The next council meeting would be held on 23 November 2017 and questions needed to be submitted 5 working days before that. Councillors could help members of the public with the process.
· An attendee sought assurance that the library would not be sold; instead it should be expanded. Councillors commented that they agreed with the attendee, but the report said that the library building would be sold.
· Concerns were raised that there were no other amenities in the Rushey Mead ward apart from the library and recreation Centre; the centre was also much smaller in size than other community centres around the city.
· Concerns were raised that the residents were not being listened to.
· An attendee asked whether there could be a community asset transfer (CAT) for the library. Councillors responded that they had suggested this, but the suggestion had been dismissed.
· An attendee expressed concerns that the council was paying too much for library books and savings could be made by addressing this issue. The Chair commented that he, the resident and the Head of Service had met previously to discuss this and the matter had been fully investigated. The Chair added that in his view, everything that could be done in respect of this concern had been done.
· An attendee asked why the work to the library and recreation centre had been delayed and heard that this due to the pressure from residents opposing the decision.
· Councillor Patel advised that it was beneficial for user groups to remain united and focussed in opposing the decision, because they all shared the same aim in keeping the library open.