The council has been sent two key alternatives to its plan which meet the budget requirements and keep ALL libraries open with paid staff.
1) Greenwich Leisure Limited, a charitable organisation who run libraries in Greenwich and Wandsworth. The council’s decision to ignore an expression of interest from GLL, which offered to keep the service professionally run, was key to their defeat at the 2014 Judicial Review. The council have gone on to ignore the GLL’s proposal again in their decision of 3/3/2015, and returned to their original plan (force 30 libraries onto unwilling volunteers, sack around 160 members of staff), with minor changes.
Read a summary of this proposal here (PDF): Greenwich Leisure Limited Lincs Library Proposal. This was published on Lincolnshire County Council website under the filename ‘Executive-3-2-2015-Future-Shape-of-Library-Provision-Appendix-7a’.
2) Pauline Palmer’s Proposal
In her own words below, here’s a summary of Pauline Palmer’s proposals for the library service in Lincolnshire. UPDATE: The council have disgracefully mishandled this proposal, and have now apologised to Mrs Palmer, adding to the long list of ‘lessons to be learned’ (aka cock-ups) by the council in their handling of the libraries. Read about this in full here: Council Apologies to Pauline Palmer
KEY POINTS OF MY PROPOSAL
Total Budget £4,351,772
• Tier 1 and tier 2 opening hours as in LCC original proposal (i.e. 50 +25) except Bourne which has to be 45 hours.
• Retain ALL static library buildings including tier 3.
• Open tier 3 static libraries for the same hours as pre-consultation up to 20 hours per week employing a paid professional member of staff and supplement with volunteers to work in tandem and/or in addition.
• That North Hykeham and the Deepings Libraries are open for 25 hours per week also employing a member of professional paid staff supplemented by volunteers to work in tandem and/or in addition.
• Tier 3 current mobile stops- Leave as pre-consultation except where monthly hours exceed 8 hours (max 8 as per LCC original proposal)
• Tier 4 current mobile stops- leave as pre-consultation except where monthly hours exceed 1 hour (max 1 as per LCC original proposal)
• Retain all of the 286 HLS mobile stops under threat pre-consultation by revising the mobile routes. All 30 minute stops.
• Total number of large mobile vans 5. Then there are 4 small vans for targeted including nursing homes as at present and still leave 5 large vans to cover the route plan that I have redesigned. These vans will be double manned and maximum mileage 10,000 miles.
• To cover extra costs a charge would need to be made for internet use at 50 pence per half hour/ £1 per hour. This is a modest charge and will hopefully be in line with what the majority of people could afford. There is also an allowance of 28% excluding VAT for concessions. (There could be a higher charge for non-members/guest users if necessary.) Incidentally, other library authorities where charges are made show that this is well within the norm. Some charge £3 per hour for non-members and £2 for members. I have checked locally and people have no objection to this charge and are in fact surprised that there is currently no charge!
• I have used the ‘actual’ figures of expenditure for all costs where applicable. Wages have been calculated in accordance with the scales I was provided with for 2013/2014. My financial data has been obtained via FOI.
• Management staff budget reduced to less than the LCC option. This means that only 1 xG12 plus 1.8784 G10 fte posts have been lost.
• I also propose that LCC consider investing in the library service by introducing Toy libraries and Musical Instrument hire libraries within existing static libraries. I have done some research on these and they can be lucrative and would allow LCC to increase staffing and possibly opening hours as these new sub-libraries begin to bear fruit. As these libraries are traditionally run by teams of volunteers there will be no extra staff costs. In addition, there will be very few overhead costs because they will operate within existing properties. I have attached a financial indication of expected income from these.
• The investment required to establish the initial toy and musical instrument libraries could be the £600,000 that LCC was intending to make available to volunteers to take over and entirely run the tier three static libraries.
• By accepting this proposal LCC will retain a professionally run library service with experienced staff. In addition be able to extend and improve the service to all residents of Lincolnshire with no extra costs. LCC could be an example of good practice.
REPORT ON 2014 ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL FROM MRS PAULINE PALMER
This report attempts to clarify what this alternative plan is. Before preparing this alternative option I have obtained the ‘actual’ costs via a FOI request. The reason I did so was because I feel that it allows the proposal to be much m ore accurate. It is still based on the same year and the same cost centres as the LCC version. I have prepared this from the perspective of compromise. On the one hand LCC needs/wants to cut the frontline library service budget by a massive amount. On the other hand library users and others want to retain the library service as it was before the consultation began. It simply isn’t possible to achieve both aims. However, I have gone as far as I can in this alternative option to addressing the concerns of both sides of the argument. I have considered three different incomes streams that could be utilised by LCC. These are Internet use charges, Toy Libraries and Musical Instrument libraries. The first of these can be put in place at the start and so has been incorporated into the first year of the plan. The two other options probably cannot be immediately implemented both because the equipment and the facilities would need to be prepared and because the volunteer side would need to be set up. So I have divided the plan into 3 further years. During the first year the toys and musical instruments can be bought for the libraries where space already allows for these to be set and the volunteers can be put in place. The profit from these can then be used to increase staff levels in the libraries for the second year. The second year the buildings that have been identified by LCC as being able to extend could be extended and the next stage of the toy and Musical Instrument libraries can then take place following the same procedure as the year before. Finally, relocation of libraries, where identified, can take place and the final stage of implementation can take place. In this way, it will be known how much is raised from these add on library ideas before extra staff are engaged. Paragraph one describes the main crux of this proposal and the criteria that has been assumed. Paragraph 2 explains the changes to tiers one and two made in this proposal. Paragraph three describes the plan for tier 3 static libraries. Paragraph four explains the large mobile van routes. Paragraph five explains all other sections.
Essentially this plan tries to solve the problem of having to close any static libraries at all or remove any mobile stops completely, whilst still adhering to the LCC decision to reduce the frontline budget to £4,351,772. It requires two essential points. The first is that any shortfall in professional LCC staff is replaced by volunteers. This is not so far from what LCC is asking except that this plan ONLY requires staff and volunteers to work alongside each other. It does NOT require volunteers to raise funds or manage the whole library financial and working functions. It therefore, follows the guidelines of the Government, TUC and Volunteer England. The second is that new income streams need to be established in order to make up some of the shortfall in funding and allow a more comprehensive service to be maintained. One of these streams is income from internet use. This is going to be 50 pence per half hour of internet use. The financial detail in the proposal is based on figures available from CIPFA regarding internet use in Lincolnshire. Other authorities charge for internet use and this modest charge should pose no problems. VAT has been deducted from the expected income and so has a 28% allowance for concessions. The second income stream is from the running of Toy libraries which can be run entirely by volunteers as in other counties. The overhead’s from this will be small or even nil because existing premises will be used for this. According to an internet search people are either charged per week’s hire of a toy or a blanket charge of £25 per annum. It is the annual charge that has been opted for in this proposal. A 3% take up has been assumed although take up can be considerably more. Again VAT and 28% concessions has been allowed for. The third income stream is from running Musical instrument hire libraries. These will follow the same principles as Toy libraries. The charges however are £2 per week per instrument and there is no annual charge. This report has allowed for a 1% take up on this but it has been established that 7 out of 10 people learn to play a musical instrument in their lives (70%). At least 10% of these would prefer to hire an instrument for the first year so that they can be sure that they will continue with lessons before paying out large sums of money on their own instrument. Again VAT and 28% concessions have been allowed for.
I have added two libraries to the tier 2 level. These are North Hykeham and the Deepings library. Tier 1 libraries are to open for 50 hours per week keeping the staffing levels as LCC propose but to supplement them with volunteers as and when required. Tier 2 libraries to open for 25 hours per week again keeping the staff levels as LCC propose but to supplement them with volunteers as and when required. The financial appendix 1 separates the cost of premises, wages, other costs and income so that it is more evident how the costs are split up. It uses the actual figures obtained via an FOI. The number of Site Coordinators remains at the same level as before the consultation.
Because the Deepings and North Hykeham libraries have been transferred to tier 2 under this plan there remain 28 static libraries known as tier 3. This proposal intends that all these libraries will be open for up to 20 hours but no more hours than before the consultation (varies between 10 and 20 hours). They will be manned by one member of LCC staff and supplemented by volunteers who will work alongside them following the same principles as tier 1 and 2 outlined above. Again the costs on the financial pages in appendix 1 have been divided into premises costs, wages, other costs and income, using actual data from FOI information obtained. There will be 3.5fte Site Coordinators, which is the same as before the consultation.
This plan keeps the 4 access mobile vehicles together with 6 fte members of staff. The budgeted cost appears higher than the LCC one but this is mainly due to differences in staff levels plus I only have a total figure for running costs of all 10 original vans from FOI so I have apportioned the running costs accordingly. This means that although this section may have over estimated the access van cost, the large mobile van costs will compensate by under estimating. There will be one mobile van coordinator as before the consultation. Also there will be 5 large mobile vans. Before the consultation there were 6 of these but one was only used as a stand by vehicle in case of breakdown etc. this seems a waste of funding. Therefore, this proposal has drawn up a detailed new mobile route based on the original mobile route and location of 5 vehicles. It allows for a spare vehicle to be available each day of each week. Full details of the mobile routes are in appendix 2. The tier 3 mobile routes have been allocated up to 8 hours per month as per the original LCC plan but no increases in pre-consultation hours have been allowed. The tier 4 mobile routes have been allocated up to 1 hour per month, again in line with the original LCC proposal but no increases in pre-consultation hours have been allowed. All the stops previously designated as HLS and liable to be stopped have been retained as 30 minute stops.
The allowance for Enablers will be £485,002.50. There is an allowance for 0.5fte collections access assistant, which is the same as before the consultation began. The Management Staff budget has been increased to £473,494 to allow for more staff to be retained mainly because no static library will be closing under this proposal. The costs for Bourne library have not been altered because they cannot be. Therefore, I think that this library should not really be included as an official level 2 library because it has no option but to remain open. This plan proposes to keep the schools library service. This is a vital service because the literacy levels in this country are deteriorating. No change has been made to the LCC official proposal for the Universal Budget or to Waddington and Saxilby libraries.
Finally, please read through all the paperwork that I have prepared and I am happy to answer any queries or questions you may have. The idea behind this proposal is that whilst reducing the budget to the required level it is still possible to retain the static libraries and the mobile stops. The staffing levels can then be increased to a more satisfactory level when the funding streams start to produce in income. By utilising volunteers to help and more especially to run the new Toy and Musical Instrument libraries the service can continue until more funds become available. I have included appendices for financial data, staffing levels, opening times, and mobile route plan for the 5 large vehicles and notes to the route plan. Please consider this plan seriously because I believe that LCC could set an example of how to partly circumvent Government funding cuts effects on all frontline services. According to CIPFA LCC does not engage well with the public and it may well explain some of the reasons behind the decline in library use that LCC refer to. After, LCC has consistently reduced the level of service over the last few years and if the libraries aren’t open as much, people can’t use them as much so this obviously results in a declining service. Keep them open and keep the mobile service running. Things can and should improve.
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