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Record office closure to be scrutinised in joint council meeting

PUBLISHED: 17:06 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:33 19 July 2018

Lowestoft library and record office. Picture: Nick Butcher

Lowestoft library and record office. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

Suffolk County Council’s decision to close the Lowestoft Record Office will come under renewed scrutiny after a deal was struck at a council meeting.

Mark Bee, Conservative leader at Waveney District Council. Picture: Suffolk County CouncilMark Bee, Conservative leader at Waveney District Council. Picture: Suffolk County Council

At Waveney District Council’s full council meeting on Tuesday, July 18, Conservative council leader Mark Bee agreed to organise a joint scrutiny meeting between the two councils.

The move came after Malcolm Cherry, Labour councillor for St Margaret’s, put forward a motion calling for the closure date of the records office to be postponed until an alternative site had been found.

The decision to close the record office has been criticised by campaign groups, with more than 7,000 people signing a petition calling on Suffolk County Council to reverse the decision.

The new scrutiny committee will be chaired by Alison Cackett, chairman of Waveney’s Scrutiny Committee, and will be held in Lowestoft.

Mr Bee, who also chairs Suffolk County Council’s scrutiny committee in his role as a county councillor, promised members of the public, stakeholders, and campaign groups such as Save Our Record Office would be welcome to put questions to the committee.

He added the decision would allow for the whole decision making process and the governance behind the closure to be examined in full detail.

During the meeting, Labour group leader Peter Byatt, who supported the deal, said: “It would be a betrayal of our trust in the administration of this council if it doesn’t happen.”

Mr Bee responded: “You can have my absolute assurance that this will be done as quickly as possible. This is not a delaying process.”

He added after the meeting: “I suggested way back that it should go to scrutiny and it was accepted there should be a role for scrutiny because there are clearly lessons to be learnt from the way that this has been handled.

“Let’s do it properly, but let’s not do it so it drags on. We will do it as soon as we can properly do it.”

Mr Byatt added: “This Joint Scrutiny meeting will now give members of the public the opportunity of presenting their views directly to councillors, and having their voices heard, something which has been lacking in the whole process.”

The original motion proposed by Mr Cherry was withdrawn as part of the deal.

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