Mayor vetoes extra money for the borough’s libraries

Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies
Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies

ELECTED mayor Peter Davies has vowed that no extra cash will be spent funding libraries after councillors approved plans for them to receive a cash lifeline.

Councillors met for a specially scheduled full council meeting following several Labour amendments to the 2012/13 budget.

Labour, the majority group on the authority, managed to push through £500,000 worth of changes which will come from the authority’s £100 million of reserves.

At the meeting a Labour motion that 14 of the 26 libraries the council closed receive £382,000 to keep them open was passed. The decision included re-opening Denaby and Carcroft libraries. Many of the other sites have been taken over by volunteers.

But yesterday Mr Davies told the Free Press he would veto the spending. Under the borough’s governance procedures the mayor has the final decision on almost all policies.

Mr Davies said: “We will not be spending the money on these Labour Party plans when we already have a system that works with volunteer-run services.”

However, Mr Davies added that if ward councillors in Carcroft and Denaby came to him with a good case and enough volunteers he would consider re-opening libraries in those areas.

At Monday’s meeting Mr Davies agreed to a number of Labour’s amendments including cutting the day care fees increase from 26 to ten per cent, deferring a reduction in grants for the Citizens Advice Bureau for six months, keeping opportunity centres open and reinstating the council’s Local Government Association subscription, however he became embroiled in a heated exchange over libraries.

Mr Davies said he had provided £110,000 additional funding to help libraries but Labour’s plan could send the “wrong message” leading to communities not supporting libraries.

He conceded that to be bickering over £500,000 was “small fry” after councillors’ previous reputation of non-cooperation.

However, Labour leader Sandra Holland hit back saying libraries in Carcroft and Denaby closed because there were no volunteers and that funding must be provided.

The mayor saw his proposals shot down by members who had packed the Mansion House for Monday’s meeting.

The amendments received 43 votes in favour, six against and three abstentions.