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Crawley library in danger of losing opening hours as County Council choose money saving over services

Another public consultation and this time it is about reducing opening hours for the library.

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Crawley library users are being asked to share their thoughts on proposed budget savings which would see a reduction in opening hours at Crawley Library.

The consultation running from 9 October to 13 November 2019 is, according to the council, aimed to help inform the decision due to be taken by West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member, Jacquie Russell, in November. 

The suggested savings include for Crawley to:

Reduce the evening opening hours in the library by one hour (from 7pm to 6pm) from April 2020.

This change, along with the same reduction in hours at three other Sussex libraries along with the ceasing of the mobile library service would apparently result in a total year on year saving of £175,000.

Jacquie Russell, Cabinet Member for Fire and Rescue and Communities, said:

“Since becoming cabinet member, I have often been asked about what will happen to libraries across the county. As I have said before, we need to look at doing things in a more affordable way, but ultimately my aim is to preserve the core of the library service.

“With the suggested savings being proposed, we hope that the other services we have on offer at libraries across West Sussex will diminish any negative impact to users. 

“However, I still want to hear the thoughts of our library users by way of this consultation, especially those who are specifically affected by the proposed budget savings, as this will help to shape and inform my decision in November.”

But Crawley residents will be all too wary of consultations and how they can be just lip service and completely ignored as recently happened with the consulation over the Post Office move into County Mall.

Crawley MP Henry Smith said:

“When West Sussex County Council Leader over a decade ago, I was pleased to procure and open the new Crawley Library, which ever since has been an important community resource. I would encourage all who care about our library to engage with the Council’s consultation and call for evening opening hours not to be reduced.”

You have until 13 November 2019 to have your say.

To find out more and fill in the consultation, visit haveyoursay.westsussex.gov.uk/libraries/libraryoffer/

CN24 approached Jacquie Russell for a guarantee that if the results of the consultation came back that there was a majority against the reduction in hours that she would keep the library open till 7. A response has not yet been received.

But West Sussex County Council did respond saying:

“This is a live consultation and we encourage residents to have their say before the deadline of 13 November. After the consultation has closed, the responses will be taken into consideration before any decision is made.”

Opinion

Crawley Councillor who resigned from Labour party is…err… STILL a Labour councillor for West Sussex Council

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You are going to have to bear with me on this one because even I am struggling to understand how this is even possible or allowed – well actually it may not be if party rules are to be followed.

Remember last week when two Labour councillors resigned? Well one of them was and still is a County Councillor – so you might expect that leaving Labour and becoming an Independent would mean – well – that you have left Labour and become Independent – DUH!

Stupid thing to say isn’t it, I mean it’s obvious. What other way is there to think?

Apparently a completely different way, that’s how!

For West Sussex County Council has now confirmed that the EX-Labour Borough Councillor Karen Sudan is in-fact still representing Labour on the County Council.

How is this even allowed?

This raises a worrying and somewhat confusing rule. For if this is totally ok with local government then it means you could represent one party as a county councillor and a completely different party for the borough.

But let’s add to the mix that the Labour Rules state that in order to represent the party you MUST be a member. But Cllr Sudan is no longer a member.

There is also something else here that would not be a miss within some conspiracy theory. IF Cllr Sudan was to stop representing Labour in the County Council, then the amount paid in allowances changes dramatically. Having 5 members instead of 4 allows more than £6K in additional allowances to be paid to the groups leader.

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson said:

“Cllr Karen Sudan has informed us that she remains a member of the Labour Group on West Sussex County Council. The County Council is aware that Cllr Sudan is now an independent on Crawley Borough Council.”

So where does this leave us at the moment. Well if you are one of the voters who ticked the box for Cllr Sudan then you may be thinking, what party have I voted for, and you would not be criticised for thinking so.

What is needed is clarity of the situation…not an independent Councillor waving a Labour flag.

Both Cllr Sudan and Cllr Michael Jones have been approached for comment.

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