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Report Author

PURPOSE 1. The report sets out proposals for the next phase in the Isle of Wight Councils ongoing support to community libraries.

OUTCOMES 2. The decision to be taken will achieve the following outcomes:(a) The Isle of Wight Council (IWC) will have provided further support to communities seeking to establish their own local library; (b) IWC will have reiterated its decision to continue to make funding available to the potential community library sites until the end of September, as required; (c) Volunteers will have been supported to build their skills, experience and confidence, before they open their own community library;

BACKGROUND 3. The Cabinet made the decision to continue to run six public libraries, on 1 March 2011. These sites are Cowes, Freshwater, Newport, Ryde, Sandown and Ventnor. This decision also meant that IWC would cease to fund a further five libraries on 30 June 2011, unless significant negotiations were underway with community groups. The potential community libraries are situated in Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin. On 12 July 2011, the decision was taken under delegated powers by the Cabinet Member, to continue to fund the five potential community libraries until the end of July. This extra time was offered, to support the community groups to establish their libraries, allowing additional time for negotiations to conclude successfully. It is clear that significant progress has been made and that several community libraries are very close to opening, with the remainder likely to open in September. However, despite this strong and positive progress, leasehold negotiations are taking longer than expected. This means that there is still a need to fund the potential community 1



libraries for a longer period, to maintain the momentum built up to date. The length of this funding will vary, with some libraries probably needing funding only until the start of August, whereas other community groups will probably need until the end of September to have their site open. 6. The recommendation extends the safety net afforded by the decision of 12 July 2011. This decision is an extension of the 12 July decision to fund until the end of July. The Equality Impact Assessments (EIA) undertaken for that decision apply to this decision also, because the implications are precisely those in the draft EIAs submitted for public consultation as appendices to the 12 July decision. The consultation period for public comments on the future provision of the service and its potential impact will not have ended by the time that this decision needs to be announced, so the EIAs Implementation Plan will form an appendix to the decision to be taken at the end of September. That decision will set out the future statutory public library provision across the Isle of Wight, and formalise the end of funding to any site where it has been previously announced that the Council will cease funding.


STRATEGIC CONTEXT 8. The recommendation underpins the new Eco Island themes of Skilled and Sustainable Island, and Inclusive Island, because it will support the development of new skills bases in the community libraries, and will provide additional time for those skills to be developed in a safe and supportive environment. It will also contribute towards the Inclusive Island theme, because it will see the Council supporting community groups to succeed in developing their own library services. The recommendation will also underpin the IWC corporate priority of Delivery of budget savings, through changed Service provision, because it will result in IWC managing its resources and minimising its financial risks.


PROPOSAL FOR EXTENDING SUPPORT TO COMMUNITY LIBRARIES 10. The transfer of management of the community libraries to local residents groups is a gradual process. The recommendation facilitates an extension to the next planned phase in the process. 11. It is recommended that IWC maintains its funding for the five potential community library sites, at the levels established by the 1 March Cabinet decision, until the end of September 2011, where this is needed. In practice, the funding support means the provision of salaried staff, pulled in to cover the staffing in the five sites from public libraries across the Island, plus the payment of basic utilities as running costs. Funding will cease during this period, when community library groups are ready to take on the operation of their local site themselves. 12. This would mean that Bembridge, East Cowes and Shanklin would continue to be open for 21 hours a week, and Brighstone and Niton would continue to be open for 10 hours a week, funded by IWC, until 30 September 2011 at the latest. This level of 2

funding is not sustainable beyond the end of September, because this would affect the services ability to realise its savings. 13. This extension of funding offers community library groups a longer opportunity to have their volunteers shadow the IWC staff, by performing library support tasks while IWC staff are present. This is intended to offer volunteers a source of confidence-building and encouragement, so that they can practice with salaried and trained IWC staff in attendance. This approach is already demonstrating significant results in those library sites where it has been introduced. This is furthering the planned supported launches of the community groups throughout August and September, as set out in the 12 July decision. 14. The additional month of funding for July has been used to identify specific sites, where a revised mobile stop could be put in place. The next phase of this review of the Councils mobile library provision is to plan the routes and deploy specific vehicles on specific routes, to better meet the needs of Island residents. This is vital preparation, because it will ensure that, the Council continues to meet its statutory obligations by preparing for a mobile service to operate after the end of September, which could be immediately put in place, should the need arise. The sites and timings will be assessed on the basis of all residents ability to reach the stop, and will be informed by residents comments during the public consultation on impact which ends at the start of August. CONSULTATION 15. The consultees for this decision have been: community library groups; Cabinet Member, Director of Community Wellbeing and Social Care, Library Service management. 16. This decision has not appeared on the Forward Plan. This was because the Council made a decision only on 12 July to extend its opening hours for the whole month of July, by which time the last date for entries on the July Forward Plan had passed. The need to have this decision made with urgency reflects the Councils desire to maintain momentum and continue to work with communities without a break in negotiations. In accordance with the Councils Constitution, the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been consulted on the decision instead. His views are included below:17. I am aware that the process regarding transfer of management of these library sites requires more time, beyond the end of July which was catered-for in the 12 July decision. This decision was needed urgently, to ensure support continued to the community groups hoping to establish a community library, within the timeframe set out. I am therefore happy to support this decision, to ensure that the community groups are given time to finalise their offer. The recommendation gives a clear shared strategy for all parties to secure positive community outcomes. FINANCIAL / BUDGET IMPLICATIONS 18. The recommendation would result in the Library Service incurring additional costs of up to 31,000, if all the sites were to take until the end of September to transfer to community management. This cost would be made up of approximately 17,000 to have run all five potential community library sites for the month of July. The removal 3

of Government Connect Secure Extranet (GCSX) data lines would lower the costs significantly, with approximately 6,800 now being the running costs for August and a similar sum for September. These running costs include utilities and single staffing as per the recommendation. If community libraries are set up, their running costs would be removed from these figures, which is why the sums discussed in this section represent maximum funding levels. 19. These additional costs will be found from within the Community Wellbeing division budget.

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS 20. The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (the Act) s.7 (1) states that It shall be the duty of every library authority to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof. 21. s.7(2) of the Act requires the library authority, in fulfilling its duty, to have particular regard to; the supply of books for borrowing or reference, and other materials sufficient to meet both general and special requirements of adults and children; encouraging adults and children to make full use of the library service and providing advice as to its use; and ensuring co-operation between the library authority and any other authority whose functions are carried out within the library area. 22. IWC is a library authority. There is no definition within the act setting out what is a comprehensive and efficient library service, or even what has to be provided as a minimum. IWC has given this careful consideration when reaching its decision on 1 March 2011 to cease to fund five libraries, having had specific regard to local needs. 23. The reduction to six IWC-run libraries in Cowes, Freshwater, Newport, Ryde, Sandown and Ventnor, supported by a mobile service, is considered to meet the statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service and so Options A and B enable the Council to meet its statutory duty. 24. Option A, would ensure some additional library provision over and above the statutory duty. PROPERTY IMPLICATIONS 25. Negotiations are making good progress with community representatives in respect of each of the five libraries that are likely to be transferred into community library use. The basis of these negotiations remains as set out in the 12 July decision, with a 30year lease, at a preferential peppercorn rent. The negotiations are progressing on the basis of draft leases. 26. There will inevitably be running costs associated with the extension in the recommended option. Even if the buildings were to close at the end of September 2011, there would be holding costs for the buildings, reflecting reduced utilities usage but the same level of insurance and a payment for rates.

EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY 27. An EIA was carried out and considered by the Cabinet on 1 March 2011 relating to the overall proposed changes to the Library Service. It is now appropriate to undertake a further assessment of the impact of changes on each individual library, and therefore draft EIAs have been prepared, using information from the consultations and knowledge within the Service, pulled from the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (the analysis of a wide range of data on need, ranging from health statistics, to educational attainment levels, to car or home ownership, which every local authority is required to compile with its partners) and other data. 28. These draft EIAs will be evaluated and public comments collated at the end of July. The findings will be used to formulate the final decisions made about the future provision of the service, and an Implementation plan will be put in place for the new library service from 1 October onward. This will include mitigatory actions to be taken within a specified timeframe, within current budget limitations. SECTION 17 CRIME AND DISORDER ACT 1998 29. This recommendation will continue to see IWC assets used in communities across the Island, providing a focal point for community cohesion and preventing empty properties becoming disused.

OPTIONS 30. The options are:Option A 31. To continue to fund the libraries in Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin as in the 1 March decision, beyond 31 July 2011 until 30 September 2011, as required. Option B 32. Not to continue to fund the libraries listed in Option A, but replace them with a mobile library service from 1 August 2011; EVALUATION 33. The options were evaluated as follows: Option A 34. This option will result in communities, which are coming together to run their own local library, being further supported to make a success of their venture. This support would take the form of IWC funding of staff, to ensure the library sites remain open and in use. In all community libraries, the IWC-owned site is the preferred site for continued service, at least in the short-term. It is therefore important that these sites are seen to remain in use, to permit a transition to community management which is as seamless as possible. 35. The recommended option offers supported opening through the important period of the school holidays, demonstrating the Library Services ongoing commitment to 5

improving young peoples literacy through such events as the Summer Reading Challenge, which will run in all sites. 36. This option fits within the formal framework for decisions to be made on IWC funding and other support to community libraries, made in the 12 July decision. Where a community library group no longer wishes to receive IWC support, because it is ready to open its own library, IWC will withdraw its funding by mutual arrangement by the stipulated deadline of 30 September. If a community library group is not in a position to take over the management of a specific site by that deadline, a mobile service will still be provided in the area, as described in 12 July decision, and funding to keep the static library site open will cease on 1 October 2011. 37. This option has been recommended and selected, because it maintains the current level of provision, and offers communities real support to train volunteers and have time to establish their community libraries in such a way that they will have an excellent chance to succeed, which is what IWC wishes to see. Option B 38. Option B would not reflect the 1 March Cabinet decision, if accepted, because significant negotiations are taking place in all five community library areas and therefore continued limited support was clearly offered at the time of that decision, and the subsequent decision of 12 July. A mobile library provision would be unlikely to be for more than a half-day each week in each site. Consideration would have to be given, where possible, to the mobile stops co-inciding with school childrens ability to use the service. The selection of stops will be informed by the points raised by residents during the impact consultation which ends at the start of August. 39. This option would place pressure on communities to conclude negotiations on leases and would have a high probability of IWC-owned library sites closing, at least temporarily, as a result. Although there would be a substitute mobile service, the closures would be unpopular with residents and would not respect or support the momentum which has built up in the community library groups to date. Community groups would be likely to see the closure of sites, with no offer of continued support other than off-site training and ICT funding, as an act of poor faith. This would be because the negotiations are, in most cases, extremely close to successful conclusion and it would be unfortunate, to put these negotiations under unnecessary strain, by not adhering to the commitments in the 1 March and 12 July decisions, to continue to fund within a defined timeframe. RISK MANAGEMENT Option A 40. This option represents a medium-to-low level of risk. It creates a level of financial risk, but this is quantifiable and mitigatory action can be taken to reduce its impact on the overall budget savings figures for the Library service. This option represents less risk than Option B and meets the obligations arising from 1 March Cabinet decision. This means that it complies with existing Council policy, upholds two existing decisions, and enhances the likelihood of success of those decisions. This option represents an element of operational and financial risk. This is because the staffing levels in the new Library Service have already been reduced in line with the earlier Cabinet decision and so relief staff will have to be deployed to supplement staffing gaps. However, if 6

single IWC staffing continues to be accompanied and supported by volunteers, as was introduced by 12 July 2011, this would support IWC staff to enable adequate cover for breaks, and would offer volunteers the opportunity to build their confidence in the relevant site still further. Although the recommendation therefore comes at a cost to the Library Service, it also mitigates the risk that communities would not be able to run their own libraries and therefore represents long-term value for money. Option B 41. This option represents a high level of risk. It would create a significant level of disquiet in the communities which are all so close to opening their own community library, which would hold significant reputational risk for IWC. The financial risks would be medium, because although savings levels would be safe, the obligations to fund, as set out in the 1 March Cabinet decision and the subsequent delegated decision of 12 July, would not have been met and this may lead to challenge. Operational risk would be low, because staffing levels would not be required to staff the sites to the level decided. However, the high level of reputational risk outweighs these low risks, because this option would feed misperceptions that IWC is not committed to community library success. RECOMMENDATION Option A To continue to fund the libraries in Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin as in the 1 March decision, beyond 31 July 2011 until 30 September 2011, as required. APPENDICES ATTACHED None BACKGROUND PAPERS None Contact Point: Astrid Davies, Commissioning Manager for Building Community Capacity, 01983 823804, e-mail

IAN ANDERSON Director for Community Wellbeing and Social Care

COUNCILLOR BARRY ABRAHAM Cabinet Member for Fire, Culture and Residents Services

Decision Signed Date