Surrey Library Service Review

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Surrey County Council are planning a £60m reduction in budget next year and are expected to provide services without increasing council tax.

I work for Surrey County Council Library Service.

The Library Service recently underwent a public value review. (Full documents here & here.) As a result of this recommendations were made as follows to a Cabinet meeting on 1st February, 2011.

PUBLIC VALUE REVIEW OF LIBRARY SERVICES

(1) To agree to work with Parish Councils, local charities, community groups and organisations, with the aim of inviting interest to establish community partnership at selected libraries, and co-designing and developing a Surrey model for locally managed and partnered libraries, with a progress report to Cabinet following the consultation period.

(2) That local committees lead in driving the community partnering approach for libraries forward.

(3) That consultation with existing users of the mobile library borrowers and equality advisory groups be agreed, to co-design a sustainable and value for money service including consideration of appropriate and affordable support to enable borrowers to continue to access library services, with a focus on using e-technology, community transport and voluntary driver schemes. This requires a proportion of savings to be redirected to providing alternatives. The actual cost will be unknown until consultation is completed, but initial estimates suggest a maximum total annual cost of £109,000 is required between 2012-13. It is expected that this sum would reduce by 15% per annum in 2013-14 and 2014-15. In 2012-13 net annual saving would be £330,000.

(4) That withdrawal of the mobile library service be agreed. Thereafter annual savings of £439,000 in library controllable expenditure savings and £7,000 in annual corporate savings (insurance and parking) would be achieved.

(5) That implementation of the action plan should start immediately, led by Peter Milton, Head of Library Services.

(6) That progress be reported on a quarterly basis to the PVR Steering Board and the Safer and Stronger Communities Select Committee.

(7) That the recommendations set out in the implementation action plan, attached to the submitted report, be agreed.

Reasons for decisions:

 To move the Public Value Review of Surrey Library Service into the consultation and implementation phase.

[The decisions on this item can be called in by the Safer and Stronger Communities Select Committee.]

With regard to (1), 11 libraries have been named and identified as candidates for community partnerships, although the number or which ones they are is not indicated in the agreed decisions above. They are Bagshot, Bramley, Byfleet, Ewell Court, Lingfield, Molesey, New Haw, Stoneleigh, Tattenhams, Virginia Water, Warlingham.

The budget was agreed by the Conservative led Council on 8th February. However, Liberal Democrats & Labour voted against it. The Residents Association abstained. Surrey County Council elected councillors are broken down as follows: Conservative (55), Liberal Democrats (13), Independent or Residents Association (10), Labour (1), No-group affiliation (1).

The budget agreed at the meeting on 1st February was called-in by the “Select Committee for Safer and Stronger Communities”. Reasons for the call-in can be found on the BBC website and on the Surrey Liberal Democrats website. 

Edit 22/02/2011: Reasons for call-in are shown below (taken from Surrey County Council site.)

CALL IN OF CABINET DECISION – PUBLIC VALUE REVIEW OF SURREY LIBRARIES (decision of 1 February 2011)

To review the decision by Cabinet on 1 February 2011 to implement the recommendations of the Libraries PVR to close the mobile library service and transfer libraries into community partnership.

Mr David Goodwin, Mrs Jan Mason and Mr David Wood called-in the decision on 8 February 2011.

Recommendations for changes will be discussed at a meeting at County Hall, Kingston on 22nd February (10.30am). This meeting will be open to the public.

Feedback can also be sent to: library.pvr@surreycc.gov.uk

Opinions on the suggested changes can be found on Liberal Democrat Councillor’ Diana Smith’s blog and Stokieboy’ blog.

Newspaper articles about the changes can be found on the Public Libraries News site.

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