Library privatisation update: FAQ

Lib Dem Cllrs Susan Van De Ven, Amanda Taylor and Barbara Ashwood have put together an FAQ on the Cambridge Central library service changes, which we reproduce here:

Cambridge Central Library: Kora option for an Enterprise Centre FAQs


Liberal Democrat councillors led the way toward securing a public consultation and forcing a reconsideration of options, and specifically the officer recommended Kora-run option, for an Enterprise Centre at Cambridge Central Library. 


The process has been flawed, other options have not been evaluated and the ‘preferred’ Kora option may not stand up to closer scrutiny. 

  1. How long had officers been negotiating with Kora for an Enterprise Centre on the third floor of Cambridge Central Library?


18 months


  1. When did councillors learn about Kora’s role and officer negotiations?


Members of the Highways and Community Infrastructure (HCI) Committee first learned about this in the lead-up to their March 17 meeting, when they were asked to make a decision endorsing the officer recommendation to go forward with the preferred option of working with Kora to develop an enterprise centre.


The concept of an enterprise centre had been publicly discussed for many months and was endorsed by committee members, but knowledge of Kora’s role and contractual negotiations was not shared by officers with councillors.


  1. Did any councillors outside the HCI committee know about the proposals?

    The Conservative Cabinet members serving at the time of the inception of the proposal – autumn 2013. The current cross-party HCI committee came into being in May 2014.

    4. Did any councillors challenge the officer recommendation to proceed with the Kora option?


Yes. At the March 17 HCI meeting, Lib Dem Councillors Susan van de Ven proposed an amendment, seconded by Lib Dem Cllr Amanda Taylor:


to defer the decision to develop and Enterprise Centre in Cambridge Central Library, pending receipt of further detailed information on the proposals, including the opportunity to question Kora, and the opportunity for a robust consultation exercise.


This amendment was supported by Cllrs Barbara Ashwood and Noel Kavanagh.


The amendment was rejected by the rest of the HCI committee – all of the UKIP, Independent and Conservative members – who then voted and resolved:


  1. a) to approve the development of an enterprise centre within Cambridge Central Library;
  2. b) to enter into an agreement with Kora (part of the Regus Group) to create and run the Cambridge Library Enterprise Centre (CLEC); and
  3. c) to delegate to the Executive – Director of Economy, Transport and Environment in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Highways & Community Infrastructure Committee authority to approve the final negotiations required to complete this project.


Cllrs van de Ven, Taylor, Ashwood and Kavanagh did not support the decision.


  1. Was this decision then challenged?

    Yes. Cllr Amanda Taylor led a ‘decision review’ of the decision which was considered by the General Purposes Committee on 14 April.  The GPC agreed unanimously to send the matter back to the HCI committee on 2 June, and to ask for the public’s views in a consultation exercise.


  1. Will the HCI committee consider the other two Enterprise Centre options put forward on 17 March, alongside the Kora option?

    That is the expectation and we have asked for confirmation – and also requested that those options are more fully worked up to create a level playing field.


  1. Will members of the public be consulted on next steps?


Members of the public can respond to the Enterprise Centre proposals through the current library consultation exercise, which closes on 10 May:


And please don’t hesitate to contact us Lib Dem Ladies with any further questions or comments







Opposing Central Library 3rd floor privatisation – success!

Further to the decision at today’s General Purposes Committee was to refer the case back to E&E committee to re-consider their decision in June, post the formal consultation over the library services which will now close on the 10th May.

The move to do this was led by Liberal Democrat leader, Cllr Maurice Leake.

At this stage it is the best decision we could hope for – the key now is to get more transparency and look at alternative options.

Sepura to leave Cambridge – what is the future for Radio House?

Last year, Ian & Shahida surveyed parking around the St Andrew’s Road area.  They met with residents in early December.

Ian explains how they followed up:

The main agreed action from that was that we contacted Sepura as some believed their staff were contributing to parking saturation in the area.  Having done this, we’re discovered a more important upcoming issue: Sepura are leaving the area at the end of 2015, and the owners of the building are considering how best to present the building for re-letting.

Shahida outside Sepura, in the Radio House building

Shahida outside Sepura, in the Radio House building

Shahida said:

We have established contact with the person leading the project for the owners, and the good news is that they have agreed to keep us, and you, updated.  Both Ian and I think that making changes to parking arrangements in the area would be premature when we don’t how the building (called “Radio House”) will be occupied.

Shahida will be a strong voice on planning, standing up for our local area where Labour’s Cllrs have just voted for officer recommendations.

The building’s roof is listed so it would be difficult for it to be redeveloped, but as soon as we know the owner’s intentions we’ll let residents know.

April Streetlighting changes: update

Update 2015-04-02

The public meeting on Tuesday was well attended, and we’ve had a number of responses from those who couldn’t make it.  We’re working on an alternative proposal to take to Balfour Beatty that we hope to have ready for next week.

See for more info.

Lib Dems fight central library privitisation

Cllr Ian Manning was one of nine Lib Dem Cllrs who have fought back against UKIP and Tory backed plans to privitise part of Cambridge Central Library.

For more detail see here:

Shahida takes action on Tesco pavement

Isn’t the pavement outside Tesco Express steep?
For anyone who is less mobile – wheelchair users, those who are infirm for example – it’s
really dangerous, especially in cold weather.
Lib Dem campaigner, and City Council Candidate Shahida Rahman, is trying to help Cllr Ian Manning try and get this sorted out – will you sign to support her?
Her petition is at: .
Shahida said:  “Ian was trying to work with Labour’s City Cllr to get this improved – so I was shocked when he told me she’s just given up, after being told by a Highways officer it would be expensive.
I firmly believe cost should not come before safety, and that we shouldn’t give up so
easily! I agree with Ian that Tesco should be bearing part of the cost to level the
pavement off – after all they will profit from people being able to get to the store
more safely.”

Lib Dems fight for family facing eviction but unable to move

A Cambridge family claim they are “stuck in limbo” threatened with eviction but unable to move.

Mrs Judah Devoreaux has packed away all her belongings after being told her home is to be demolished.

She wants to move to get her six-year-old twins settled into a new school but she claims Cambridge City Council won’t allow her priority housing status. And she says to “add insult to injury” her rent has been increased.

Cambridge Liberal Democrats have called on Labour to act as a matter of urgency and allow the family to be given priority status.

“The rent increase was the final kick in the face,” said Mrs Devoreaux from her home in Eastfield, East Chesterton. “Why raise the rents on houses that are going to be knocked down? That adds insult to injury.

“I am seriously thinking of going back to Bermuda where I have family because I just want to get out of this place now. Vacant homes have been advertised on Homelink but I can’t apply for them even though I’m going to be evicted.”

Forty homes owned by housing association, Hundred Homes are to be demolished but no date has been set yet.

Tenants living in the houses have been told they will have to leave but as they have not been given a firm date they cannot get Band A priority status to apply for alternative rental homes through Homelink.

Cambridge Liberal Democrats have taken up Mrs Deveraux’s case and claim Labour are refusing to listen to the tenants’ plight.

They raised the issue at the recent Cambridge City Council meeting asking Cllr Kevin Price, Executive Councillor for Housing what progress he had made helping tenants. But he refused to answer.

Lib Dem campaigner, Shahida Rahman said: “This family needs to have a chance to relocate to a new home as a matter of priority, but Labour is failing to help them or other tenants in the same situation.

“When Labour was in opposition they were quick to criticise council policy; now they are in a position to take action they are doing nothing.”