Wokingham Liberal Democrats are celebrating victory in their campaign to save the library service from being handed over to a commercial company to run.
In May 2011 the Conservatives started on the road to becoming what the council's own press release at the time said would be “one of the first councils in the country to outsource its library service to a private sector provider." The service was due to be outsourced early in 2012.
The Liberal Democrats mounted a huge campaign against the proposals. They argued that libraries are a valuable community resource that must be run for the benefit of communities not profit. The Lib Dem petition against the outsourcing was signed by thousands of residents, and provoked a debate in the council chamber. The Conservatives delayed their decision, and now, nearly 18 months later, the Conservatives have decided not to proceed with the outsourcing.
Lib Dem group leader Cllr Prue Bray said "The Lib Dems always thought outsourcing the libraries to a commercial provider was a crazy idea. How could anyone make a profit out of libraries? The Conservatives attacked us for opposing their plans. Now - a lot of time and money later - we have been proved right. The Leader of the Council called our campaign 'laughable'. I bet he's not laughing now."