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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 11 August, 2014

 

Report of the Leader

 

Review of Library and Information Services in the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To advise Cabinet of representations made to the Council in respect of the draft Library Strategy and to seek Cabinet approval of the proposals subsequently put forward in the Strategy.

Recommendations

1.         Cabinet consider the representations made in relation to the draft Library Strategy and the responses to those representations and adopt the revised strategy as follows.

2.         Cabinet approve the implementation of the following recommendations which are contained in the revised Library Strategy in Appendix 1.

Recommendation 2:

 

·               The library service increases data collection to demonstrate how it contributes to the poverty agenda and that it uses data analysis to support applications for learning and development grants.

Recommendation 3:

 

·               Charges for library services are increased with immediate effect in line with the schedule set out in Appendix I and that further work be undertaken on the development of other income generation and grant funding opportunities.

Recommendation 4:

 

·               A 'Friends Group’ is established at Barry, Penarth, Cowbridge and Llantwit Libraries to increase opportunities for the library service to be further embraced by the community but also to raise funding and apply for external grants.

Recommendation 5:

 

·               Library services work closely with other departments responsible for lifelong learning, arts and culture and explore opportunities to increase digital inclusion and education further.

Recommendation 7:

 

·               The library service further develops and promotes e-books and other digital services to its members.

Recommendation 10:

 

·               The book fund is reduced from £220,000 by £25,000 to £195,000 with effect from April 2015.

Recommendation 13:

 

·               Upgrade and extend the library Wifi service during 2014/15.

3.         Cabinet approve that subject to consultation with staff and the relevant trade unions, the Director of Learning and Skills in consultation with the Leader of the Council, be given delegated authority to implement the following two recommendations:

Recommendation 8:

 

·               The overnight security services provided at Barry Library is replaced with CCTV during 2014/15.

Recommendation 9:

 

·               Cleaning costs are reduced by 20% across all libraries in the Vale during 2014/15.

4.         Cabinet note that the following recommendations have been agreed at earlier meetings of Cabinet and that arrangements for implementation are being made:

Recommendation 11:

·               Invest £250,000 during 2014/15 to upgrade and refurbish Llantwit Major Library to ensure the environment and service meets the needs of the community. (Minute ref. C2297)

Recommendation 12:

 

·               Invest £88,000 in 2015/16 to address damp in Penarth Library. (Minute ref. C2211)

5.         Cabinet note that recommendation 15: the proposed 'pop up’ library service in Barry developed in partnership with Barry Town Council was launched in June 2014 (Minute ref. C2297).

6.         Cabinet agree that consultation take place in the following communities about recommendation 1, the proposed establishment of community libraries:

·               Dinas Powys

·               Rhoose

·               St Athan

·               Sully

·               Wenvoe

 

7.         Cabinet agree that consultation in St Athan will also include recommendation 14 the proposed relocation of the library.

8.         Cabinet agree that consultation will take place with library users on recommendation 6, the proposed reduction in library opening hours.

9.         That Equalities Impact Assessments are further developed in relation to recommendations 6, 7 and 8 during consultation in the communities identified above and with library users.

10.      That the responses to consultation about the establishment of community libraries, the relocation of St Athan library and the reduction in library opening hours are considered by Cabinet before a final decision is made.

11.      That the revised strategy is referred to the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee as part of the consultation process described above.

12.      A Staff Reference Group comprising staff and union representatives is established with immediate effect.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         Issues raised in relation to the draft Library Strategy are considered as part of the decision making process.

2.         The recommendations can be progressed under officer delegation.

3.         Proposals are progressed in accordance with the Council’s Avoiding Redundancy Policy.

4.         Cabinet is reminded that these recommendations have already been considered and approved.

5.         Cabinet is aware that the 'Pop Up Library’ has commenced in Barry.

6/7/8 To seek feedback from library service users and communities on specific proposals               put forward in the revised Library Strategy. 

9/10  Cabinet considers the response to the consultation and the impact of the proposals     prior to making a final decision.  The requirement is for Cabinet to have due regard in        substance and with rigour based on sufficient information which has been properly analysed.

11.    The Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee is consulted on the revised Library Strategy.

12.    To engage staff and trade unions in the continued development and implementation of the revised Strategy.

Background

2.         The Draft Library Strategy was considered by Cabinet on 28th April (Minute Ref C2284).  It was approved in principle and was referred to the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee for consideration. A commitment was made to making a final decision on the Strategy after considering the comments and any recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee.

3.         Issues and comments raised by staff and members of the public are included in this report for members' consideration.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         A meeting was held with Library staff on 29th April at which a number of questions were raised and addressed. This was followed up with a letter dated 15th May (Appendix 2) which included a summary of the questions and answers from the meeting. Staff were informed that a summary of all appropriate comments from staff would be submitted to Cabinet for consideration.

5.         A number of staff submitted comments to their union and these were tabled for consideration at the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 19th May. Questions directly relating to staffing issues were removed from the list for scrutiny since employment issues fall outside of the remit of the committee. The full list of comments and questions raised by staff through the unions is included in Appendix 3. A small number of comments and questions were also received directly from staff and those which are additional to the union representation have also been included in Appendix 3.    

6.         The Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee considered the draft Library Strategy at its meeting on 19th May 2014. A reference from the Committee to Cabinet is included as a separate report on this agenda.

7.         A small amount of correspondence has been received from members of the public. Many of the issues raised were addressed at the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee meeting on 19th May and in the responses to the union representation and comments and questions from staff.

8.         Three letters were received in relation to St Athan library, two of which were in support of maintaining and investing in the current library building irrespective of the property assessment of the condition of the building.

9.         The premises costs were also queried as expenditure on gas was included but there is no gas supply at St Athan. This has since been checked and it can be confirmed that the amount of £1,130 was shown in error as gas, whereas it should have related to Rates and the amount of £118 which was entered as Rates actually related to Water Rates. The overall premises expenditure for St Athan Library in 2012/13 of £5,966 included in the Library Review Report was correct. Appendix Bi has been updated to include the 2014/15 budgeted premises costs for each library.  

10.      The Library Strategy has been revised in response to some of the representations made. It is recognised that there has been a communication issue with staff.  A recommendation is included in this report to establish a Staff Reference Group, the purpose of which will be to update and engage trade unions on progress with implementation of the Strategy. Some of the financial information included in the strategy has been updated and clarified.

11.      The recommendation to develop community managed/supported libraries has been revised to include Rhoose as well as Dinas Powys, St Athan, Wenvoe and Sully. Following queries over the application of this model to Dinas Powys but not to Rhoose Library, the position was reviewed. The village libraries at St Athan, Sully and Wenvoe were initially considered for this new delivery model due to their comparatively small number of opening hours and associated service offering. Consultation with service users across the Vale revealed that 25% use more than one library for a variety of reasons. Further analysis of consultation responses revealed that 38% of respondents from Dinas Powys use other libraries, which is to be expected given the close proximity of Dinas Powys library to the two tier one libraries at Barry and Penarth. When this was considered in the context of the financial pressures facing the Council the future sustainability of Dinas Powys Library if operated under the existed arrangements was brought into question.  It is considered that the establishment of a community library at Dinas Powys could best safeguard the continuation of the library in the future.

12.      The 2015/16 Budget Strategy considered by Cabinet on 30th June 2014 sets out a number of scenarios in relation to required savings which range from £20.8M to £35.5M over the period 2015/16 – 2017/18. Rhoose Library was not originally selected for the community library delivery model due primarily to its distance from the libraries at Barry and Llantwit Major (refer to Appendix Bii). However, on reflection and in view of the increased pressure to identify further savings across the Council to respond to the scenarios in the 2015/16 Budget Strategy, it is now considered appropriate to apply the community managed library model to Rhoose Library which would otherwise be the only village library operating under the existing arrangements.  40% of consultation respondents from Rhoose indicated that they use other libraries.  This would result in the main libraries in Barry, Penarth, Llantwit Major and Cowbridge being operated directly by the Council and Dinas Powys, Rhoose, St Athan, Sully and Wenvoe being developed as community managed/supported libraries if feasible.

13.      If, following consideration, Cabinet gives final approval to the Library Strategy, a Project Board will be established to manage its implementation. The purpose of the Project Board would be to:

·               ensure appropriate engagement with stakeholders and staff in relation to the recommendations;

·               ensure effective communication about the development and implementation of the strategy;

·               ensure that proper plans are in place to demonstrate ‘readiness to deliver’ of individual recommendations, including stakeholder and staff engagement, prior to implementation;

·               ensure cross directorate support is identified and committed as appropriate to the delivery of the strategy;

·               monitor the implementation of the strategy.

This purpose will be achieved through the consideration of the following:

·               a communication and engagement strategy and timetable;

·               a regularly updated project plan based on the Library Development Delivery Plan.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

14.      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.

15.      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 original sum the specific target identified for the Learning and Skills Directorate was £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 2016/17 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 current 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.

16.      The budget strategy for 2015/16 considered by Cabinet on 30th June 2014 sets out a range of scenarios in relation to the savings the Council will need to find over the period 2015/16 – 2017/18. The scenario are based on a range of planning assumptions about the reduction in aggregate external funding, cost pressures, pay and price inflation and council tax income. The savings required over the three year period range from £20.828M to £35,558M and Directors have been tasked with reviewing savings with a view to implementing them ahead of the target date and to consider areas for further savings. Further review of the savings which the Library Service could be required to find has resulted in the recommendation to develop community managed/supported libraries being extended to include Rhoose Library.

17.      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. The Pop-up Library which has recently been launched in Barry 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.

18.      If approved, certain recommendations put forward in the Library Strategy 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 proposals in accordance with the Council's Avoiding Redundancy Policy.  Costs of Redundancy could initially be met from the Early Retirement/Redundancy Reserve.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

19.      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)

20.      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'.

21.      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.

22.      Reference shall be had to the duties in Section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 and Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010 and any relevant case law on the consideration of Libraries.

23.      The proposals have potential employment law implications, advice in this regard will be sought as and when appropriate throughout the process.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

25.      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 G to the review. Further consultation will be required on certain proposals and further Impact Assessments will be carried out and considered by Cabinet prior to a final decision being made. The specific proposals concerned are those in connection with recommendation 1 (development of community supported/managed libraries), recommendation 14 (relocation of St Athan Library) and recommendation 6 (library opening hours).

Corporate/Service Objectives

26.      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

27.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

28.      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 of the revised Library Strategy document.

29.      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.

30.      It is recommended that further consultation is carried out on specific proposals as detailed elsewhere in this report.

31.      Consultation with staff and trade unions is an integral part of implementing the proposals once approved.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

32.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

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

 

Officers Consulted

Sian Davies, Managing Director

Andrew Borsden, Lead Officer: Youth and Community Learning

Christopher Edwards, Chief Librarian

Nicola Monckton, Accountant

Adrian Unsworth, Operational Manager - Human Resources

Debbie Marles, Head of Legal Services

Reuben Bergman, Head of HR

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills