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Posted on 28 July 2011 at 15:12 GMT

Surrey Library lobby a huge success

The Women's Institute joined 'Friends' groups, Library action groups, trade unionists and community anti-cuts campaigners on a mass lobby of Surrey County Council (SCC) on 26th July.

This was the biggest lobby of the council for many years and was representative of a cross section of the population of Surrey.

Organised jointly by Unison and the Byfleet Library Action Group (who even booked their own coach to the lobby), we were protesting against SCC plans to close 11 libraries if the local community can't or won't take them over.

They are also axing the whole county mobile library service.

The lobby was addressed by Alan Gibbons, children's author and campaigner and by various trade unionists and local library users. One residents association councillor came out to offer support and the council deputy leader came out at the end and offered to meet the campaigners.

SCC are spreading a misleading idea that the local user groups are enthusiastic about being asked to take over their libraries but ten of the eleven library groups have stated clearly that they are only considering the idea because they have a 'gun to their heads'.

They are all opposed to the proposals and want to keep their paid library staff.

The council Unison branch is proud to have played a pivotal role in getting the groups together and helping to give them the confidence to fight back.

There will be another action meeting in Byfleet for all the Surrey campaigners on 2nd August which will plan the next steps in this winnable battle.

Library workers have been encouraged and motivated by this campaign and many turned out on the lobby. Unison membership in libraries is now growing quickly and we will be discussing with our members what action they can take as part of the campaign to defend library services in Surrey.

Paul Couchman, Surrey council Unison branch secretary (in a personal capacity)

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