Friday, 15 July 2011

Performing Arts Library plans are not yet a foregone conclusion

As I blogged before, Cornwall Council's communities scrutiny committee yesterday looked at the threat to the Performing Arts Library that had been highlighted by the Cornish Guardian and by a large number of local arts organisations.

We heard reassurances from Communities Director Gill Steward that the service was not about to be closed (indeed, she said that it 'would never' be closed). We also had assurances that, if relocated, it would remain open to the public, with expert assistance, for at least as many hours per week as it currently is.

However, there remain concerns about the service and its future. Relocating from St Austell to Threemilestone will make it a lot less accessible to many current users and there seems to be confusion about what materials will remain in St Austell. I also raised the apparent contradiction between the statement made by the Director - that this is not a change designed to save money - and Cabinet Support Member Steve Double - that £1.5 million needs to be saved somehow. Cllr Double gave me an assurance that he had been quoted out of context.

There are also concerns about other specialist libraries and Indie Cllr John Pollard asked about the future for these - would they also be relocated to a 'central' point?

At the end of the debate the committee backed my proposal that we note the assurances we have been given and the plan to set up a group to consult all current users but ask for a full report on this and other specialist facilities to come back to the committee before any final decisions are taken.

My reading of this whole issue is that our intervention has forced the Council to look more deeply at a scheme they thought would be easy but which is a lot more contentious and more complicated than first thought.

No comments: