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Agenda Item No. 8

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning]: 11th November 2013

 

Report of the Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

Review of Library and Information Services in the Vale of Glamorgan

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To update Members on the details of a fundamental review of Library and Information Services in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Recommendations

1.             Members consider the terms of reference of the recently commenced Library and Information Service review and acknowledge the need to develop a service which can be sustained in the long term within reduced funding levels.

2.             The Scrutiny Committee notes the current position in relation to the details of a fundamental review of the service and notes that the Committee will be consulted further in December 2013 on the findings.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             Members are aware of reasons for the review and the intended outcomes.

2.             Members consider the consultation programme and engage in the development of options for reshaping the Library and Information Service.

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 is clear that a fundamental review of the service is now required.

3.             Public library services, alongside other public sector services, are facing enormous financial challenges. As a result many local authorities are testing new approaches to working with communities in order to build sustainable library services for the future.

Relevant Issues and Options

4.             The terms of reference for the review (Appendix A) sets out the drivers for the review, the areas which will 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 review group comprises the Leader and Deputy Leader as well as officers from across the council. The review commenced at the end of September 2013 and two meetings of the group have been held to date. A detailed project plan has been developed including a consultation plan (Appendix B) to ensure stakeholders are engaged in the development of options for future service delivery. The Lifelong Learning Scrutiny will be consulted on its views in December. The full results of the consultation will be reported to Cabinet and referred to Scrutiny for consideration. 

6.             It is expected that the review will conclude in March 2013 after which the report of the Deputy Leader will be brought to the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

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.  In view of the recent settlement and the forecast reduction in funding it will be necessary to review the target for 2016/17 and to bring forward the savings where possible.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

8.             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)

9.             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'.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

11.        An intended outcome of the review is to ensure the service is accessible to all, supports the most vulnerable and individuals as required throughout their lives. In reshaping library services the council will need to ensure that there is no adverse impact or barriers to usage for groups protected under the Equality Act 2010.

Corporate/Service Objectives

12.        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

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

14.        Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

15.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

 

Officers Consulted

Christopher Edwards, Acting Chief Librarian

Sarah Jeffery, Improvement Manager

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

 

 

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