Agenda Item No. 4(b)
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 8 SEPTEMBER 2014
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 11 AUGUST 2014
C2430 REVIEW OF LIBRARY AND INFORMATION SERVICES IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (L) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – LIFELONG LEARNING) -
Cabinet was advised of representations made to the Council in respect of the draft Library Strategy and approval was sought of the proposals outlined in the strategy.
The draft Library Strategy was considered by Cabinet on 28 April, 2014 (Minute No. C2284). It was approved in principle and was referred to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) 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.
A meeting was held with Library staff on 29 April, 2014 at which a number of questions were raised and addressed. This was followed up with a letter dated 15 May, 2014 which was attached at Appendix 2 to the report and 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.
A number of staff submitted comments to their union and these were tabled for consideration at the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) held on 19 May, 2014. 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 was included in Appendix 3 as attached to the report.
A small number of comments and questions were also received directly from staff and those which were additional to the union representation had also been included in Appendix 3, as attached to the report.
The Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) considered the draft Library Strategy at its meeting on 19 May, 2014. A reference from the Committee to Cabinet was included as a separate report previously on the agenda.
The Library Strategy had been revised in response to some of the representations made. It was recognised that there had been a communication issue with staff. A recommendation was included in the report to establish a Staff Reference Group, the purpose of which would be to update and engage trade unions on progress with implementation of the Strategy. Some of the financial information included in the strategy had been updated and clarified.
The recommendation to develop community managed/supported libraries had 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% used more than one library for a variety of reasons. Further analysis of consultation responses revealed that 38% of respondents from Dinas Powys used other libraries, which was 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 was considered that the establishment of a community library at Dinas Powys could best safeguard the continuation of the library in the future.
The 2015/16 Budget Strategy considered by Cabinet on 30 June, 2014 set out a number of scenarios in relation to required savings which ranged 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 (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 was 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 used 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.
If, following consideration, Cabinet gave final approval to the Library Strategy, a Project Board would 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.
During consideration of the item the Cabinet Member for Adult Services left the room and took no part in any discussions.
The Leader commented that he had received representations on this item from Councillor J. Thomas and a Mr S. Cooper and these were circulated at the meeting.
This was a matter for Executive decision
(1) T H A T the implementation of the following recommendations which were contained in the revised Library Strategy in Appendix 1 as attached to the report be approved -
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Library services work closely with other departments responsible for lifelong learning, arts and culture and explore opportunities to increase digital inclusion and education further.
- The library service further develops and promotes e-books and other digital services to its members.
- The book fund is reduced from £220,000 by £25,000 to £195,000 with effect from April 2015.
- Upgrade and extend the library Wifi service during 2014/15.
(2) T H A T subject to consultation with staff and the relevant trade unions, the Director of Learning and Skills in consultation with the Leader, be given delegated authority to implement the following two recommendations:
- The overnight security services provided at Barry Library is replaced with CCTV during 2014/15.
- Cleaning costs are reduced by 20% across all libraries in the Vale during 2014/15.
(3) T H A T it be noted that the following recommendations had been agreed at earlier meetings of Cabinet and that arrangements for implementation were being made:
- 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).
- Invest £88,000 in 2015/16 to address damp in Penarth Library (Minute ref. C2211).
(4) T H A T it be noted 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).
(5) T H A T consultation take place in the following communities on recommendation 1, the proposed establishment of community libraries:
- Dinas Powys
- St Athan
(6) T H A T consultation in St Athan would also include recommendation 14, the proposed relocation of the library.
(7) T H A T consultation take place with library users on recommendation 6, the proposed reduction in library opening hours.
(8) T H A T Equalities Impact Assessments be further developed in relation to recommendations 6, 7 and 8 during consultation in the communities identified above and with library users.
(9) T H A T the responses to consultation about the establishment of community libraries, the relocation of St Athan library and the reduction in library opening hours be considered by Cabinet before a final decision is made.
(10) T H A T the revised strategy be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) as part of the consultation process described above.
(11) T H A T a Staff Reference Group comprising staff and union representatives be established with immediate effect.
Reasons for decisions
(1) To progress the recommendations under officer delegation.
(2) To progress proposals in accordance with the Council’s Avoiding Redundancy Policy.
(3) To note that these recommendations had already been considered and approved by cabinet
(4) To note that the 'Pop Up Library’ had commenced in Barry.
(5/6/7) To seek feedback from library service users and communities on specific proposals put forward in the revised Library Strategy.
(8/9) To consider 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.
(10) To ensure appropriate consultation with Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) on the revised Library Strategy.
(11) To engage staff and trade unions in the continued development and implementation of the revised Strategy.
Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 11 AUGUST 2014