Volunteer Crisis

IMG_7550

Celebrating the move to volunteers in the Autumn 2015 council mag, posted to every home. No mention is made of the closed libraries or disillusioned volunteers recorded on this page. Click to enlarge.

Now the council plan is going ahead (from Oct 2015) we continue our campaign by recording what is happening to the service. This includes libraries that have closed for good, volunteers that confirm they are not genuine volunteers but feel forced into saving their community resources and volunteers withdrawing their offers. Help us make this record a true account by letting us know what’s happening with your library, community hub or volunteer group via our contact page.

Wainfleet Library Needs Volunteers (September 2016)

Residents have been without a library for more than a year, when Lincolnshire County Council closed the grade one listed building for renovation. A public meeting in the Magdalen building is taking place… to rally volunteers to get it up and running. Read more at: Skegness Standard

Uncertain future for Caistor Arts & Heritage Centre (August 2016)

“Come the autumn, we are concerned we are not going to have the money to continue,” said centre manager Stephanie Dale. The centre houses the town’s library and hosts a number of community events for all ages to enjoy throughout the year. Read more at: Market Rasen Mail

Holbeach Library plans come under ‘travesty’ attack (August 2016)

At a parish council meeting on Monday, Coun Val Gemmell said: “Holbeach Library is being remodelled on the same basis as two other Co-op branches and volunteer-run libraries in Lincolnshire, one at Waddington and one at Spilsby. But I’m very concerned over the safeguarding policy and it not having any tables and chairs for children. Also, there will be seven computers at the new library but they haven’t considered that children will be using them, next to adults. The lack of provision for youngsters means this won’t be a community library but a travesty of one.” Read more at: Spalding Today

Washingborough Now Closed for Good. October 2015.

Tweet from the Cherry Tree Class from Washingborough Academy, before the library was closed

Tweet from the Cherry Tree Class from Washingborough Academy, before the library was closed

Parish Council update:

“You will be aware that Lincolnshire County Council are withdrawing from the operating of the Library Service at the end of September and were hoping that the service would continue through the Parish Council and a team of volunteers. Despite repeated requests for volunteers the response has been very poor. Due to this the County Council will now close the Library at the end of September and the service will reduce to a mobile library. The Parish Council would like to thank the people who did put their names forward as volunteers to help save this service.”

Source: http://parishes.lincolnshire.gov.uk/Washingborough/section.asp?catId=32354

Coningsby / Tattershall Now Closed for Good. October 2015. 

The most recent news reports we could find (Feb 2015)

“There was an initial meeting between Tattershall with Thorpe and Coningsby. It was an exploratory meeting which was agreed that because of the financial implications it would be fiscally imprudent for the parish council to enter into any commitment on library provision.” Full article: http://www.bostonstandard.co.uk/news/community/community-news/parish-running-library-fiscally-imprudent-1-6574653.

If you have more detail on what happened at this library, please tell us via our contact page.

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Council Magazine Autumn 2015, click to enlarge.

Skellingthorpe Library Now Closed for Good. October 2015.

Parish Council Minutes (many references to the library in council minutes. Reason for volunteer plan failure not clear, campaign has asked for more detail which should be given after then next meeting, 27th October 2015).

October 2014
Skellingthorpe Library service update.
Greenwich Leisure had met with Cllrs Cheeseman, Goldson and Scott. It had been a very positive meeting and they had endorsed the ideas that the Parish Council had reported about the Hub that is proposed for this site.

November 2014
15. Skellingthorpe Library service update.
Officers have recommended that the Executive Member for Libraries formally accepts the Greenwich Leisure expression of interest as having met the criteria. If the panel’s recommendation is approved then the Council will need to carry out a procurement exercise which will probably lead to library services being put out to tender.

February 2015
Cllr Shore queried the situation with regard to the Parish Councils bid to take over the village library service and advised that the capital gains from the old building are to be transferred to the Parish Council.
Cllr Shore to confirm this with LCC and Cllr Martin Hill
23. LCC Libraries and Future Library Provision Proposals.
Letter to be sent to Gary Porter giving a commitment in order to preserve the grant allowance and capital gains to buy some time as part of the bigger plan for the Community Hub.
Cllr Cheeseman to write letter/
Short term proposal for the running of the existing building by volunteers to be considered

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Council magazine Autumn 2015, click to enlarge

March 2015
1. Resubmission of financial element for Community Hub.
Correspondence from Gary Porter was discussed but felt there was no value in the refurbishment of Library. Due to this the Library will close in September 2015, and would be reallocated to the Hub in the future. There would be a Mobile service available in the interim period. Cllr Cheeseman has sent a letter to Mr Porter.

April 2015
To consider the recent correspondence from Lincolnshire Libraries regarding the village library service. Cllr Cheeseman to contact Gary Porter to advise on the position with regard to the library service in the village.

August 2015
7. Library.
Mobile library from October. Where to site it – The Hill or the Community Centre? For safety reasons the Community Centre was proposed by Cllr Jackman, Cllr Goldson seconded. All in favour.

Wragby Volunteer Hub in Crisis

(November 2015) Lincolnshire County Council has been accused of “murdering” library services after a community hub surviving on a ‘shoestring’ claims it was slapped with a £10,000 business rates bill. The bill was allegedly handed to Wragby Community Hub – and volunteers who run the facility say its future is now uncertain.

Read more: http://www.horncastlenews.co.uk/news/local/fears-for-community-hub-after-10k-bill-1-7082624#ixzz3sb0T1zPI

(September 2015) “A Lincolnshire library is to shut permanently after volunteers say there is not enough money to run it. The library at Wragby will shut later today as there are not enough funds to keep it open, volunteers who run it say once rent has been paid there is only £1,000 left to run it for the year.”

Full article: http://www.lincolnshireecho.co.uk/Lincolnshire-library-shut-good-lack-funding/story-27887585-detail/story.html#ixzz3oYgE0anm

WAINFLEET source: email from Sara Baird and http://owlchub.weebly.com/

Our Wainfleet Library and Community Hub (OWLCHub)

Wainfleet Library has been located in a Grade 1 listed Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1968. It is leased by LCC from Magdalen College, Oxford.

Wainfleet library's location, image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Magdalen_College_School_-_geograph.org.uk_-_425269.jpg

Wainfleet library

OWLCHub’s initial bid to run the library service was based within this 15th century edifice, but after submitting the initial bid it became glaringly obvious that there was no way that a community group could contemplate running the site without significant financial backing.

OWLCHub then looked at other local venues where it might have been possible to house a library but, sadly, all the community buildings within the area are either unsuitable or would also demand prohibitive investment.

With hindsight we realise that we were running on an adrenaline high, we really did want to save the library and felt compelled to submit a bid by the 31st March deadline. However, until a suitable building is found, with adequate funding to maintain it, a further bid to run a library in Wainfleet is unrealistic.

Regards

Sara Baird

Full timeline here: http://owlchub.weebly.com/the-story-so-far.html

Update on Council website: Wainfleet Library will be closed from 1pm on Saturday 6 June. The County Council’s lease on the building is coming to an end, and, in light of the planned changes to library services, the authority has decided not to renew it. Efforts are being made locally to develop plans for a volunteer-run facility, something the Council wholeheartedly supports. In the meantime, the Council will be providing a mobile so people can continue to use services. Starting on Thursday 11 June 2015, stops will be fortnightly on a Thursday between 10am-2pm. The van will be parked in the Market Square

Wainfleet image source: Creative Commons Image

DEEPINGS Friends of Deepings Library Newsletter

“Nick Worth admits at last we are not ‘willing’ volunteers
“Nick Worth has agreed to stop using the phrase ‘willing volunteers’ when talking about FoDL and other groups forced to plan to run their libraries if needed. Volunteers we may be but only under duress. FoDL challenged him to name library groups who could be described as genuinely happy to run amateur libraries in their communities. He named three – all of which rejected his description when contacted by us – and was unable to name any others. He then agreed that he would drop this phrase from his media pronouncements.”

ALFORD

Janet Mackey, volunteer (Facebook posts)

When we as Alford Library Volunteers came together to support our Library and its staff to save the Library as it was, we had great expectations that we would ‘win the day’! Unfortunately since the consultation and the subsequent redundancies of professional staff, and now the Judicial Review have made us question the relevancy of our position. Yes the community have been right behind us and supported us on the extra 3 hours we opened the library, because they also hoped that the Library could be saved as it was. Stephen is quite right in saying that we were happy as a group in volunteering supported by LCC Library staff, as the responsibility is still squarely on their shoulders. As a mainly retired group of professional and semi-professional people we really didn’t want the responsibility which is to come with completely Volunteered led Community Groups. To coin a phrase ‘we’ve worked all our working lives’ and in retirement we hoped to be able to make a difference to helping in the community NOT taking full responsibility!!. The decision to stop volunteering at Alford was not made lightly, as we have all enjoyed our time at the Library. We will still be supporting SLL in their efforts with the Judicial Review. Lets hope LCC are held to account.

The Deepings – Liz Waterland Chairwoman, The Friends of Deeping Library (comment on Lincs Echo article)

May I correct an impression that readers may have gained, following your news item about Nick Worth’s opinions on library closures. The word ‘volunteers’ is only correct in so far as we are unpaid and are preparing to run a Community Library should we have to. We haven’t volunteered to run a library; we are being forced to do so because Lincolnshire County Council have threatened us with the closure of our popular and well used facility if we don’t. We will do our very best to step in if we have to but we would much rather that our library stayed open as the professionally run, properly staffed and funded community asset that it is at present. Neither alternative, of closure or community take over, is of our choice; we are being forced into this position because we are not willing to see the end of our library in The Deepings. The Friends of Deeping Library have been told we must ‘do it or die’ – the choice between them is NOT voluntary!

NETTLEHAM Parish Council 1 April 2014 Nettleham Library – Update on current position

Following Lincolnshire County Council’s (LCC) decision to proceed with its implementation of library closures, Nettleham Parish Council has now been left with no alternative but to withdraw its Expression of Interest in running a community-led library in Nettleham.  The Parish Council believes that it has made every effort to bring about the establishing of a Community Library in the village but sadly the intransigence of LCC to negotiate a more realistic lease agreement has made this impossible.  LCC would not agree to a minimum 5 year lease on the existing building, insisting that its Model Heads of Terms are applied allowing it to break the lease arrangement at any time.  Nettleham Parish Council did not feel it could invest the time and money into this venture under such conditions and expressed appreciation to the 90 residents who had come forward to volunteer their services in an effort save this vital community asset.  The Parish Council is also grateful to County Councillor Jackie Brockway for her considerable mediating efforts with LCC and hopes it is not too late for any other interested parties to step in.

The Chairman of the Parish Council Terry Williams said “this is an extremely disappointing outcome, but the Parish Council was left with no choice in the matter due to the insistence of the County Council on the inclusion of a condition in the Lease of the Building that meant they could terminate the arrangements at the drop of a hat.

North Hykeham Town Council, from Cllr Peter Dixon, Moor Ward, NHTC, via Facebook message

To whom it may concern. North Hykeham Town Council ( NHTC) and indeed North Kesteven District Council (NKDC), both submitted expressions of Interest in the hope of preserving a library service for library users in and around the Hykeham area. In the case of North Hykeham Town Council, this step was undertaken in response to views expressed at a public meeting arranged by NHTC at the town council’s offices. NHTC felt it was important that the community be given an opportunity to have its views heard in a public forum because arrangements made by Lincolnshire County Council ( LCC) made this almost impossible. I say this because the only local consultation event was held over 2 hrs at 7pm in the evening at Bishop Grossteste College, Newport, Lincoln. Anyone wishing to attend was also expected to apply for one of a limited number of tickets to attend what turned out to be a stage managed event.

As a result of local dismay and concern at LCC’s proposals, the North Hykeham Library Users Group was formed by local library users and NHTC formed a library working party to examine and, where appropriate, pursue the best of all options available.

It was agreed early on that the aim would be to preserve our library, with professional and volunteer staff if at all possible. Despite campaigning to have our library justifiably reclassified as a Tier 2 facility, LCC refused to concede arguing that local library users could travel to the Central library in Lincoln within 30 minutes. A claim that is clearly unachievable during daylight hours for those reliant on public transport!

Further research made it clear that LCC had already made plans to close our library before the consultation was even unveiled and that the survival of our library in its current location was not going to happen. We know that NKDC were approached as early as 2009 by LCC about accommodating a modified library service at the North Kesteven Sports Centre. It was also stated in the Consultation document that LCC had already decided that the North Hykeham library building and site would not be available for asset transfer. The evidence is such that it is logical to surmise that the fate of North Hykeham Library had already been determined and that LCC officers used the consultation process as a smokescreen for their plans. North Hykeham’s library users were conned into participating in a consultation in which their views were to be ignored from the outset.

I would like it to be clearly understood that all campaigning to save our library and all the effort put in by the local community, the NHLUG and members of the town council’s library working party has been motivated by the fear that our community would lose a much valued public service.

Cllr Peter Dixon, Moor Ward, NHTC

The Deepings – Ashley Baxter (Comment on this blog)

After six months of a phoney consultation we began looking seriously at the costs of running the existing Deepings library building. LCC is offering community groups £5,167 annually to run a library, regardless of size. After years of neglect and underuse of the upper floors, Deepings energy bills alone come to £3,800 leaving £100 a month to pay for everything else. Further enquiries uncovered that LCC had been secretly planning a feasibility study into selling the existing library and building a new-build extension to another community building that LCC don’t even own (yet). The Parish and Town Councils are now participating with the Expression of Interest process because it is the only way to keep the dialogue going and the library doors open.

Sutton on Sea – Stephen Palmer (via Facebook)

Hello all, as most of you know I am a County Councillor (Lincolnshire Independent) for Alford and Sutton on Sea. I have been active in opposing this whole process of volunteer run libraries and believe that the decision was a purely political decision and does not make sense on any level least of all the need to save money. This whole thing is costing tax payers as much as continuing to run the libraries as is until 2018. Anyway back to this thread. I have a duty to my communities and because of this I am putting efforts into setting up Sutton on Sea as a community run volunteer library. I am supporting the efforts of Alford to do the same. But and it is a big But we would not be doing this if we had not been forced to and I do believe if we had not we would not have a library.

If you have valuable information on what’s happening at your community hub (good or bad) please tell us via our contact page. We will not use your comment publicly without your express permission.

This information was orignally posted here.

 

7 thoughts on “Volunteer Crisis

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