LIBRARIES – BACKGROUND TO THE NEWS
PLANS FOR a staff and community model for Lambeth’s libraries have been presented to Lambeth council.
The report – requested by Lambeth’s overview and scrutiny committee at its meeting on November 10th last year – delivers ripostes to certain comments in a somewhat convoluted email from Lambeth – author unknown – which begins:
“I would once again like to thank you for your proposal, which you submitted on the 24th April 2015 to run Lambeth’s library service through a staff mutual model.”
The proposal was not for a staff mutual but for a staff and community model
“As you know, a series of decisions have now been taken by Cabinet and you will need to take the implications of all of these into account when you undertake further work on your proposal.
“The Culture 2020 plan provides the financial envelope. This includes provision for 5 town centre libraries and 5 neighbourhood library services. The town centre library buildings will remain under the management of the library service.
“The neighbourhood library service will be delivered in five buildings, which are not directly managed and in one case not owned by the Council.”
The email suggests that the trust would have the buildings of the five town centre libraries at its disposal to generate income. However, West Norwood Library is currently in rented space and when it returns to the main site it is likely to be as a sublet to the cinema and therefore the mutual would not have management of the building.
It states that the buildings of the neighbourhood libraries will not directly managed by the Council, suggesting that these would not be available for the trust, but recent emails would suggest that offers from community groups are still being considered, in which case it would seem only right that these building should be available for a staff and community proposal.
“The officer assessment of your initial proposal identified a number of issues concerning the financial modelling within the available budget envelope, which will need to be addressed, namely:
Rates relief 80 per cent: £250,000
Endowment fund, for which the staff/community mutual would be eligible: £275,000
Proportion of £500,000 for delivery of health outcomes: £275,000.
“The library endowment fund is no longer going ahead given it required the disposal of Minet library and Waterloo library to generate the necessary capital.
“The income from the leisure management contract is already underpinning the Culture 2020 plan, including amongst other services, parks and open spaces. “There are also other areas of expenditure and opportunity that will need to be considered and addressed within your feasibility study.
Provision and cost of pensions
Additional income sources
IT systems and maintenance
…submit to me a further detailed feasibility of your proposal by the1st January 2016, which sets out the viability of your proposal within the financial envelope and policy framework agreed within the Culture 2020 plan.”
As detailed above the Culture 2020 plan has a complex financial structure which does not remove £800,000 fully until 2018. It seems reasonable therefore that similar support is available if the mutual proposal can provide the long-term savings required.
The endowment fund: although this is not available in full, the initial investment of £1.5 million from Lambeth will release some monies for literacy projects that a trust would be eligible for. Moreover, a less radical and expensive change of three libraries into healthy living centres would release more capital for this fund.