The fight to protect Lichfield and Burntwood from an “austerity agenda” will continue, the local branch of the Green Party has vowed.
The comments come after it led a campaign for a consultation over the future of Lichfield Library.
A petition of more than 5,500 names sparked a fresh debate at Staffordshire County Council over the plans to move the facility to St Mary’s in the Market Square and change the existing site at The Friary into residential accommodation.
Councillors said the petition would be considered alongside other views before final decision is made.
But Robert Pass, chairman of the Lichfield and Burntwood branch of the Green Party and organiser of the petition, said the fight was about more issues than just the local library.
“The experience at the county council did not inspire me with any confidence in the state our local democracy,” he said. “But I’m delighted at the positive response from the people of Lichfield during this campaign.
“So many people we spoke to are angry about the cuts to public services and sale of valuable public assets to make a quick buck.
“The Lichfield and Burntwood Green Party will continue to fight this damaging austerity agenda, which is becoming more obvious in Lichfield with the closure of Lichfield Foyer, which supported some of our most vulnerable young adults, and now the sell-off of the Friary.”
Members of the Save Lichfield Library campaign have branded the debate on the library as a “travesty of democracy”.
Mr Pass said the core issue of the call for a public consultation was largely ignored.
“I’m obviously very disappointed,” he said. “I think the way the debate was handled was an insult to the 5,562 people from the area who signed the petition.
“The council had an obligation to debate the content of the petition – which was whether or not the people of Lichfield should be consulted on the future of their library. But instead nearly all of the councillors who spoke completely ignored the content of the petition and just talked up the move to St Mary’s and what a wonderful idea it was.
“The other recurring point many councillors made was that we misled the people of Lichfield because we called the campaign Save Lichfield Library, the inference being that people were duped into signing and the petition therefore lacked legitimacy.
“That’s a gross insult to the intelligence of the 5,000-plus people who signed the petition and was a petty political ploy to sidestep the content of the petition.”
But Cllr Ben Adams, the Staffordshire County Council cabinet member who led the debate, rejected the criticism – and said members of the public could make up their own mind about the way the campaign opposing the plans had been handled.
“A recording of the debate is available online and people will be able to see for themselves that senior members from both parties expressed concern about the way the petition was conducted,” he said.
“The merits of the proposed move from the Friary to St Mary’s was given a thorough airing and the question of consultation was also addressed and it was agreed that the petition be received, alongside other information and be included in the papers upon which a final decision will be based.”
A recording of the debate can be viewed online starting at 2hrs 4mins.