38/11

Committee

DECISION UNDER DELEGATED POWERS DECISION CANNOT BE TAKEN BEFORE FRIDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2011

Title Report of

THE LIBRARY REVIEW: CONCLUDING STAGE REPORT OF THE CABINET MEMBER FOR FIRE, CULTURE AND RESIDENT SERVICES

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1. This report puts in place the measures to end the library review, with the establishment of five community libraries, which are supported by the council but at no direct cost. The recommendation is that the council will cease to fund the public libraries at Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin on 30 September 2011, and that it will lease those sites at preferential rents and with the free loan of council library stock to community-led organisations. This will result in community libraries, the product of a partnership between the council and local residents where no locality will have lost its static provision.

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BACKGROUND 3. It is Cabinet policy to increase community-led engagement in libraries, while continuing to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service on the Island. This is defined as:Providing a good range of books free of charge to the library user and associated services in venues accessible to the majority and with opening hours arranged as nearly as possible to meet community requirements; In so doing, statutory requirements continue to be met in full. This paper brings to a conclusion the implementation of this Cabinet policy, to ensure that Isle of Wight Council library service continues to meet its statutory requirements, and that communities wishing to establish their own local library are supported to do so.

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The council’s library review has been in process since July 2010. This report brings it to a conclusion, with confirmation that direct council funding will cease for five public libraries. Previous cabinet member decisions (1 March 2011, 30 June 2011, 22 July 2011) document the background to why these sites have been identified. In four of the five areas where direct council funding will cease, there has been a volunteer co-ordinator in post already, and their presence has been crucial to the development of volunteer groups to run the community libraries. These sites are Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes and Niton. In Niton, the community group formed to take on the library has formed a company, The Edward Edwards Library Limited, in honour of the pioneer of public libraries in England, who is buried in Niton. In two areas, it has not been feasible to establish an incorporated body.. These areas are Bembridge and Brighstone. There was considerable community activity and volunteering in both areas, and, to ensure that this could result in community libraries, the Isle of Wight Rural Community Council (RCC) has offered to accept the leasehold liability for both sites. This is in line with the RCC’s policy of enabling local community enterprises and has meant both libraries can open without a break in service. In Shanklin, it has taken a slightly longer time to co-ordinate the recruitment of a volunteer co-ordinator for a number of the town’s ongoing projects. The Town Council has indicated that it is likely to offer to pay for a member of Isle of Wight Council library staff to be seconded to the Shanklin library site, for a short period of up to two months, so that volunteers may be recruited and trained on site, as has been the case in all other sites to date. This matter is due to be decided formally at their Town Council meeting on 22 September 2011. In areas where there is a community library, the council will continue to provide mobile library stops in the vicinity, in co-operation with the community library’s management.

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10. The council is not able to sustain its expenditure on the five sites in question any longer. Sufficient time has been allowed to permit legal and property disposal negotiations to near conclusion, and for the training for staff and security checks for volunteers. The training and checks have been offered to community groups, to ensure their volunteers offer the highest standards of customer care and confidence that customers can continue to enjoy their local library as a safe and welcoming space in their community. STRATEGIC CONTEXT 11. This decision supports the Eco Island Sustainable Community Strategy themes of a thriving Island (because it sees local communities establishing enterprises to operate the community libraries), and a healthy and supportive Island (because the opening of community libraries is offering volunteering opportunities which will lead to more people playing an active role in their locality). 12. The recommendations in the report also support the Vision as set out in the Corporate Plan 2011-13 to challenge statutory duties and deliver services in more cost effective ways by engaging with local communities and partners.

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CONSULTATION 13. The Library Review invited consultation and over 1500 people responded to the consultation, plus five petitions were submitted. This consultation was used to inform the initial Cabinet decision of 1 March and this decision uses the same public consultation as its basis. 14. To ensure that the community libraries are all equipped to open by or near to the end of September 2011, all five community groups involved have been consulted regularly on progress. In addition, the RCC, which is taking on two property leases to permit the opening of community libraries in Bembridge and Brighstone, has been a consultee throughout. 15. The Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs) which are attached at Appendix A and discussed below, reflect a period of additional public consultation which was carried out during July 2011 in all eleven sites. FINANCIAL / BUDGET IMPLICATIONS 16. The recommendation would result in the Library Service reducing its running costs by £31,000 on these sites, because this is how much it had cost the council to extend the opening to the end of September, in terms of additional staffing and utilities. This is in addition to the significant savings made by the staffing restructure earlier in the year. The removal of the secure data lines has reduced the council’s outgoings by approximately £6,800 a month; the remainder of the £31,000 was made up of utilities and single staffing costs. CARBON EMISSIONS 17. Based on 2010/11 energy consumption, the proposals will have the effect of reducing the Council’s carbon footprint by 41 tonnes of carbon dioxide (tCO2) during the remainder of 2011/12 and by 57tCO2 for subsequent years. Assuming a fixed price for carbon allowances under the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme of £12/tonne, the proposals will reduce the cost to the council of CRC allowances by £492 during the remainder of 2011/12 and by £684 for subsequent years.

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LEGAL IMPLICATIONS 19. Under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 the library authority (which the Council is in accordance with s. 206 Local Government Act 1972) has a duty to “provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons desiring to make use thereof”. In fulfilling its duty, a library authority shall in particular have regard to the desirability— (a) of securing, by the keeping of adequate stocks, by arrangements with other library authorities, and by any other appropriate means, that facilities are available for the borrowing of, or reference to, books and other printed matter, and pictures, gramophone records, films and other materials, sufficient in 3

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number, range and quality to meet the general requirements and any special requirements both of adults and children; and (b) of encouraging both adults and children to make full use of the library service, and of providing advice as to its use and of making available such bibliographical and other information as may be required by persons using it; and (c) of securing, in relation to any matter concerning the functions both of the library authority as such and any other authority whose functions are exercisable within the library area, that there is full co-operation between the persons engaged in carrying out those functions. 21. 22. In doing this, the council will continue to meet its statutory duty. In relation to the staffing and TUPE issues mentioned in previous papers these have now been resolved. Issues arising out of the negotiation of the draft leases submitted to the prospective tenants of Bembridge, Niton and Shanklin libraries mean the leases need further adjustment and the prospective tenants need further time to agree the leases.”

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EQUALITY AND DIVERSITY 24. The Equalities Act 2010 requires a local authority to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and to advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristics and persons that do not. The local authority has to consider the impact that any potential change in policy, rules, guidance or services may have on individuals who may be affected and who enjoy rights as a person with a protected characteristic under the Act. 25. During July 2011, library customers in all eleven of the council’s public libraries were invited to comment on the impact that changes to that site would have on them. This consultation exercise was based around the nine “protected characteristics” which feature in Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs). These characteristics are: age; gender; sexual orientation; gender reassignment; disability; marriage; pregnancy and maternity, race, and religion. 26. Appendix A to this report represents the EIAs for those sites affected by this decision, including action plans which reflect customer comments wherever possible. These action plans will be used to ensure that the council minimises the negative impacts of its decision to close some of the sites included in Appendix A. These EIAs, together with those for the council’s public libraries, will be available for viewing at the Lord Louis Library’s Reference Library. The full set of EIAs will be provided to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, at their request, and impact monitoring is clearly included in future service planning. PROPERTY IMPLICATIONS 27. Negotiations are nearing completion with community representatives in respect of each of the five libraries that are likely to be transferred into community library use. The initial basis of these negotiations was a 30-year lease, at a preferential “peppercorn” rent, with the tenant being responsible for all insurances, maintenance 4

and repair (albeit there will be a schedule of condition forming part of each lease, ensuring the premises do not have to be put into any better condition at lease termination than they were at commencement). 28. Draft leases have been issued for each library. These leases make clear that they are granted to support community library provision from the current buildings. There is a break clause, operable by the Council, where the lease can be terminated if the building ceases to be run as a community library. The break clause also permits the tenants to release themselves from the lease, should different and more preferable accommodation become available. 29. From the continuing negotiations with the community groups, it is apparent that the 30 year lease does not meet the requirements of all of the groups, for a variety of reasons. This has resulted in agreements being reached as follows:• • • • • Bembridge Brighstone E Cowes Niton Shanklin 30 year lease Tenancy at will, to enable proposed relocation within a year Tenancy at will, to enable proposed relocation within a year 30 year lease 40 year lease, reflecting the initial capital investment proposed by the community group

30. As lease negotiations have taken longer than expected, the council’s way of granting legal occupation of the premises to the community groups, ahead of completion of the lease, will be through a Tenancy at will. 31. The council has ensured that it has disconnected its link to the government secure intranet (which is used by council sites for secure data exchange). This has meant that alternative data connectivity has had to be installed, using a business broadband supplier. The broadband requirement of the sites is such that it needs a businesssuitable bandwidth, to allow the library management system to be operated at the same time as customers using the internet in the sites. Any cheaper, non-business solution, would not have been able to support the heavy data demand that these sites require. In addition to this broadband provision, which the council will continue to fund, the council has also re-routed its ICT systems for the fire stations in Bembridge and Shanklin, which previously were routed via council systems in the libraries in these areas. OPTIONS 32. The options considered when making the recommendation in this report were: Option A To cease funding the libraries in Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin on 30 September 2011 To grant leases or tenancies-at-will to East Cowes Town Council, the Edward Edwards Library Ltd, Shanklin Theatre & Community Trust and the RCC To continue funding all eleven libraries

Option B

Option C

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RISK MANAGEMENT 33. Option A represents a medium-to-low overall level of risk to the council. The five sites in question have been identified for over six months, and the council’s decision-making on how the sites were identified for closure has been clear. There are still high levels of reputational risk related to the feared closure of the sites, and this is likely to be highest in Shanklin, where a community library will only open straight away with the secondment of an Isle of Wight Council employee for a short period. However, the council is working with community groups to put in place a range of measures to support the community libraries’ ongoing success. These measures are set out below in the Evaluation section. 34. Option A poses low levels of financial and operational risk. The closures will represent savings which are already part of the council’s current budget strategy. The closures have already been put in train, with the council’s high-cost high-security data lines having been replaced by standard business broadband to each of the sites in question. This will enable the ongoing delivery of the Spydus library management system and is therefore a cost which the council will bear even when the sites are no longer run by the council. This cost has been factored into the service’s budget planning. 35. Option B represents a medium-to-low overall level of risk to the council. The granting of full repairing leases to community groups effectively disposes of the buildings in question to those communities for the duration of the lease. This reduces the council’s outgoings on the sites and therefore reduces the council’s financial risks associated with the sites. In those sites where leases have not been fully resolved, tenancies-atwill would be put in place to mitigate the council’s risks and accountabilities for the sites in question. This option also maintains a static local library service in areas which would otherwise be receiving a mobile library service (which is still high quality but cannot be present for as many hours each week). There may be reputational risks attached to the council’s standard corporate property approach to disposals, which is on the basis of a full repairing and insuring lease. As some of the sites are not in a very good state of repair, this could be seen as offering community groups a difficult challenge, which their new status makes them ill-equipped to manage. Here again, the council is working with these groups to put in place measures to support the community libraries’ ongoing success, discussed below in Evaluation. 36. Option C would represent a change to the council’s budget strategy and to its cabinet decision of 1 March 2011. This would be financially unsustainable and would attract high levels of reputational risk, with the council being seen as weak in its intent to reduce expenditure and focus its services on the highest areas of need. This option would also expose the council to unacceptably-high levels of financial and operational risk. The library service would not be able to realise its target savings of £350,000 in 2011/12 and up to £500,000 in 2012/13. This would mean that these sums had to be found from other front line sites. In addition, the recent staffing review in the library service means that there would be insufficient employees to keep all eleven sites open. EVALUATION 37. Option A is recommended because it is in line with previous cabinet decisions and will help the council to deliver its financial strategy. This option will see the council work with local community groups and the RCC to ensure that disruption to local library 6

service customers is minimised, and there will still be statutory provision maintained in the areas concerned, through the mobile library service. 38. Although the council is ceasing to fund the running of the sites, in terms of rates, insurance, utilities and any on-site contracts, the council will maintain some services to the sites. Specifically, the council will maintain access to its library management system and customer access to the internet, by providing business broadband connections in each site. This is an ongoing commitment; the council needs broadband in these sites to enable the communities to use its own library systems. In addition to this, the council is providing the ICT hardware, complete with pre-loaded operating software, already in site as gifts to the community groups concerned. This is so that the new community groups do not have to invest significant sums up-front, to allow continued ICT access in the sites. In the cases of Bembridge and Brighstone, this is via the RCC. 39. Perhaps most importantly, the council is lending access to its entire book stock for free, as part of the deal with communities. Local sites will be able to lend and accept returns of council library books and the stock in the community sites will be refreshed regularly throughout the year. Training for new volunteers and any further library management system software will continue to be free and ongoing, provided by the library service’s management team. Local residents will be able to use their library service cards and reserve and order books in the community libraries, and some will also offer council-provided DVDs for rent. 40. Option B is also recommended, because it is in line with previous cabinet decisions and will help the council to deliver its financial strategy. This option will also enable local communities to operate library buildings as they wish, with signage, decoration and furniture to meet local tastes and requirements. 41. Option B will see the council supporting the community libraries through the provision of leases which are at a “peppercorn” preferential rate and which offer favourably flexible break clauses, to enable local communities to explore relocation if that becomes an opportunity which the community would like to see. As each building has its own challenges and refurbishment requirements which require detailed leasehold negotiations, the council is also offering tenancies-at-will to the community groups and the RCC, so that tenancies may begin while the negotiations are being finalised. 42. In the event that a community group relocates its library to alternative premises, as is anticipated in Brighstone and East Cowes, the legal agreement will allow the group to surrender its interest in the current library building. This ensures the group is not encumbered with a building which they do not require. This also ensures the council is able to consider disposal of what will then be a surplus asset. 43. Option C is not recommended because it would represent a reversal of the council’s policy on its library service and would be a rejection of the year-long process to reduce the cost of the service whilst meeting its statutory obligations. This option is also financially unsustainable and is therefore rejected.

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RECOMMENDATIONS Option A To cease funding the libraries in Bembridge, Brighstone, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin on 30 September 2011. To grant leases or tenancies-at-will to East Cowes Town Council, the Edward Edwards Library Ltd, Shanklin Theatre & Community Trust and the RCC.

Option B

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APPENDICES ATTACHED 44. Appendix A – DRAFT Equality Impact Assessments for Brighstone, Bembridge, East Cowes, Niton and Shanklin libraries.

BACKGROUND PAPERS 45. None. Contact Point - Astrid Davies, Commissioning Manager for Building Community Capacity, 01983 821000, e-mail astrid.davies@iow.gov.uk

IAN ANDERSON Strategic Director Community Wellbeing and Social Care

COUNCILLOR BARRY ABRAHAM Cabinet Member Fire, Culture and Resident Services

Decision Signed Date

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