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Ten Surrey libraries to be run almost entirely by volunteers

Helyn Clack of the ruling Tory group on Surrey County Council says the decision will allow threatened libraries to thrive

Volunteer-ran: Surrey libraries
Volunteer-ran: Surrey libraries

Ten libraries in Surrey are to be run almost entirely by volunteers.

Councillors at Surrey County Council this week unanimously agreed plans for volunteers to take over running of the libraries, supported by part-time paid staff.

The council said that more than 300 volunteers had already been trained to run their local libraries. The scheme is expected to be operating in all 10 of the libraries by April.

It is understood that one paid staff member would be contracted to cover 20 per cent of the libraries’ opening hours. No job losses among existing library staff are expected.

Helyn Clack, the cabinet member for community services and the 2012 games at Surrey County Council, said: "We had a choice to make, about which we had a long and carefully considered debate.

"We could maintain the status quo and watch lesser-used libraries continue to decline in the coming years, or we could let volunteers help them thrive by tailoring their local branches to meet local needs".

She said volunteers would be able to "take a library that is closed three days a week and open its doors daily".

She added: "They can cater for the commuter rush, hold evening classes, community events or online author talks to help fulfil a library’s potential."

The branches to be taken over are: Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water and Warlingham.

The plans had been held up by an earlier judicial review because of concerns over the effect of the move on vulnerable groups.

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