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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 28 April 2014

 

Report of the Leader

 

Review of Library and Information Services in the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek Cabinet approval of the proposals put forward by the Library Review Group following a fundamental review of the service.

Recommendations

1.         Members approve the Library Strategy put forward by the Library Review Group in the report attached at Appendix A, including the 15 recommendations included in the Executive Summary.

2.         Delegated authority is given to the Director of Learning and Skills in consultation with the Leader to implement the Library Development Delivery Plan attached to the Library Strategy, after considering the results of further consultation and specific equality impact assessments where relevant.

3.         This report is referred to the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The strategy will enable the Council to provide a comprehensive library service to all residents that is more relevant, efficient and sustainable.

2.         The Development Delivery Plan will enable the Strategy to be implemented in a timely manner and provides a means to monitor progress. Consultation with communities in areas where a community supported/managed library is proposed and with staff and trade unions are an integral part of the plan.

3.         The Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee was consulted on the future direction of the library service during the early stages of the review. It will now want to consider and comment on the proposals put forward by the Review Group.

Background

2.         In recent years the library service has been required to reduce operating costs and secure efficiencies. Whilst an incremental approach to reducing the budget has enabled services to be sustained in the medium term, given the severity of the cut to the Council's revenue settlement for 2014/15 and the anticipated reductions in consecutive financial years, it was clear that a fundamental review of the service was required.

3.         A Cabinet led review group was established in September 2013. Work commenced on the review in late September and concluded at the end of March 2014.

 Relevant Issues and Options

4.         The terms of reference for the review which are appended to the attached Library Service Review Report set out the drivers for the review, the areas to be examined and the desired outcomes which are listed below:

·               Deliver statutory duties, work to Welsh Government standards and development frameworks, and provide a high quality service in the most cost effective manner.

·               Identify gaps in the current level of provision and make recommendations on how and if those caps can be filled.

·               Make the best use of assets for the benefit of local communities.

·               Ensure that the service is flexible, adaptable and sustainable for the future.

·               Ensure the service is accessible to all, supports the most vulnerable and individuals as required throughout their lives.

5.         The attached strategy is the outcome of a review undertaken by the Library Review Group which has involved significant consultation, review of national policy and consideration of equalities (see 12 below), good practice, IT developments and the impact of budget reductions.

6.         The Library Strategy seeks to strike a balance between providing a solution to the requirement for the Library Service to reduce costs and helping the library service evolve and remain a relevant and vibrant community resource. It sets out a challenging but realistic future for our Library Service in the context of the on-going pressures on public finances.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

7.         The Medium Term Financial Plan 2013/14 - 2017/18 included a savings target for the Library and Information Service of £50K in 2014/15 and a further target of £115K in 2016/17.  However, in view of the actual settlement for 2014/15 and the forecast reduction in funding for future years it was considered necessary to review the future target for savings and to bring forward savings where possible.

8.         Consequently, the budget report for 2014/15 projected that the Council will need to make savings of a minimum of £20,909,000 over the next three years (2014/15 – 2016/17). Of this sum the specific target identified for the Learning and Skills Directorate is £2.118M. The Directorate identified savings of £1.051M for 2014/15 with the balance of £531k and £536k to be achieved by 2015/16 and 20/16/17 respectively. The savings arising from the proposed Library Strategy will depend to a certain extent on the detail of implementation but it is anticipated to contribute £500,000 of efficiency savings from 2015/16 towards the Directorate's savings target. The majority of this sum, about £309k, will come from the budget for employees. The other most significant area for savings is reducing premises costs by about £165k.

9.         Some investment will be required to facilitate the implementation of the detailed proposals. The improvement to Llantwit Major Library is estimated to cost £250k. CyMAL grant of £120k has been secured for this project and the balance will be found from the Library Reserve. The damp remediation at Penarth Library is estimated to cost £88k and funding is included in the current Capital Programme. The necessary expenditure for improving Wi-Fi (£8k) has already been incurred and funded. Detail on funding of the Pop-up Library is included in a separate report on this Cabinet Agenda but in summary will be funded by Barry Town Council and the existing Library Budget.  The costs of the relocation of the St Athan Library will depend on the option implemented and funding will be identified at that time but options would include utilising part of the Library Savings and capital receipts.

10.      Two key strands of the strategy; community supported / managed libraries and the reduction to opening hours will have staffing implications. Full consultation will be carried out with staff and the relevant trade unions.  As part of the consultation we will seek to progress these proposals in accordance with the Council's Avoiding Redundancy Policy.  Where possible, staff will be redeployed to vacant positions.  Costs of Redundancy could initially be met from the Early Retirement/Redundancy Reserve.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.      The review focuses on developing a model of service delivery which can be sustained in the long term within reduced funding levels.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.      The Council is a Library Authority under the terms of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and as such has a statutory duty to 'provide a comprehensive and efficient library service'.

13.      Whilst the core Library Service is free under the Act, the Local Government and Housing Act 1980 and Library charges (England and Wales) Regulations 1991 define what may not be charged for and also gives Library Authorities the power to make charges for the provision of specified Library facilities.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising directly from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.      An intended outcome of the review was to ensure the service is accessible to all and supports the most vulnerable individuals as required throughout their lives.  In reshaping library services the Council has carried out an Equalities Impact Assessment and it was considered that there was no potential for discrimination or adverse impact for groups protected under the Equalities Act 2010. The Assessment can be found at Appendix K to the review. Further consideration and consultation will be required during the implementation of the plan and before some location-specific proposals are implemented, further Impact Assessment will be carried out and considered by the Director of Learning and Skills. The specific proposals concerned are those in connection with recommendation 1 (increase in community supported/managed libraries) and recommendation 14 (relocation of St Athan Library).

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.      The Library and Information Service contributes to a number of corporate objectives, especially in the areas of Community Leadership, Children and Young People, and Lifelong Learning and Skills.

Policy Framework and Budget

17.      The future of the library service is a matter for executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.      An open public consultation to which Vale residents, identified stakeholders and other interested parties were invited to respond was carried out between 12th November 2013 and 15th December 2013.  The responses are attached as Appendix G.

19.      Five staff focus group sessions were held during the week commencing 11th November in locations across the Vale and at a variety of times to ensure the majority of library staff were enabled to attend and contribute their views. Staff who were unable to attend were also offered the opportunity to e-mail comments and opinions to the Council’s Improvement Manager.

20.      The Development Delivery Plan includes consultation with communities in areas where a community supported/managed library is proposed which will help shape the detailed locations-specific plans and inform specific equality impact assessments where relevant.  Consultation with staff and trade unions is also an integral part of the delivery plan.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

21.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Paula Ham, Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources. 

 

Officers Consulted

Andrew Borsden, Lead Officer Youth and Community Learning

Christopher Edwards, Chief Librarian

Clive Teague, Head of Financial Services

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance and Development

Dawn Sugden, Senior Accountancy Technician

Helen Sanders, Corporate Policy & Communications

Adrian Unsworth, Operational Manager - Human Resources

Operational Manager - Legal Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

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