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.
- How long had officers been negotiating with Kora for an Enterprise Centre on the third floor of Cambridge Central Library?
- 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.
- 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:
- a) to approve the development of an enterprise centre within Cambridge Central Library;
- b) to enter into an agreement with Kora (part of the Regus Group) to create and run the Cambridge Library Enterprise Centre (CLEC); and
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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