The final report of the Impact of Library Service Changes Task Group, including the covering report, is attached for Members’ consideration.
An extract from the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 29th March 2021 when this report was considered by the Board has also been attached for Members’ consideration as background information.
The Chairman of the Impact of Library Service Changes Task Group, Councillor S. Colella, presented the group’s final report for Cabinet’s consideration.
Members were informed that the investigation had been launched into the impact of changes to library services agreed by Worcestershire County Council. During the investigation, Members had interviewed the former Cabinet Member from Worcestershire County Council with responsibility for library services and had learned that Bromsgrove District Council was the only District authority reviewing the matter.
The Task Group had discovered that library services were very dynamic in Bromsgrove District and an excellent service was provided to the public. The review had also highlighted that the libraries served customers from a wide range of demographic backgrounds, including different age groups. Worcestershire County Council’s review of library services had involved staff reorganisation and was likely to result in a reduction in financial costs.
The review of library services would potentially result in opportunities for Parish Councils to assist with the delivery of local library services. There was a balance that needed to be struck between meeting local needs and taking into account the impact of service changes on local communities. There was also a need for volunteers to ensure that there was continuity in the delivery of library services.
Councillor Colella concluded by commenting that the group had been reassured by news that there were no plans to close library services in Bromsgrove District. He thanked the Members of the Task Group for their hard work as well as the Democratic Services Officer for her support and the Officers and Members who had submitted evidence during the investigation.
The Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Cultural Services and Community Safety outlined a response on behalf of Cabinet by addressing each recommendation from the Task Group in turn.
In respect of recommendation 1, which proposed that Members should continue to receive up to date information in relation to proposed changes to libraries in their wards, it was noted that this would represent continuation of existing practice at Worcestershire County Council.
The second recommendation proposed that Members should be consulted on potential changes to Strategic Libraries in the District. Cabinet was informed that there was a statutory process that had to be followed by Worcestershire County Council, in terms of consulting with residents about such changes and Members would therefore already be consulted in their capacity as local residents.
The third recommendation proposed a publicity campaign in respect of the facilities available at the libraries in the District. Members commented that this could be brought to the attention of Worcestershire County Council but Bromsgrove District Council could not make this decision on behalf of the County Council.
The final recommendation from the group proposed that Worcestershire County Council should ensure that any grant funding that was received was distributed amongst libraries. Again, Cabinet was informed that this needed to be determined by Worcestershire County Council and Bromsgrove District Council could not influence the matter.
Cabinet subsequently discussed the Impact of Library Service Changes ... view the full minutes text for item 13