Town council aims to take over library service in the next financial year

Wednesday 7th February 2018 4:00 pm
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MEMBERS of Bude-Stratton Town Council agreed on the business case of taking over the running of the town’s library at its latest full council meeting on Thursday, February 1.

The town council has been discussing ways in which it could possibly take on the town’s library.

Bude-Stratton Town Council has been in discussion with Cornwall Council with an aim to absorb the responsibility of running Bude’s library sometime during the 2018/19 financial year.

Under the new arrangement, the town council will acquire ownership of the library building and its associated running costs with the exception of the provision of books and IT support and replacement, which will continue to be provided by Cornwall Council.

The financial impact to those who pay council tax to Bude-Stratton Town Council will be a maximum of 38p per week for a Band D property. The impact of this increase can be phased in over the next four years by prudent use of financial reserves. As stated, the figure of 38p per week is a maximum — it is envisaged that savings without compromising the service provided will be made.

Within the vision of Bude-Stratton Town Council’s committee, they are striving to maintain the library service in the town and hope to provide the same number of service delivery hours. Operating from the same building, the committee’s future ambition is to extend the opening hours so that the community can access the library’s services in a more flexible way, and create further opportunities for members of the public to use the library more creatively.

If the town council were to take on the running of the library, it is probable that the administrative staff of the council would be used to support the running of the library and information service, incorporating some town council functions from the building.

The transfer of the staff and the building would see an expected £82,360 in savings for Cornwall Council, based on 2016-17 figures.

In Bude, there are approximately 3,325 active borrowers from the library, meaning there are around 88,000 loans per year and the footfall is just short of 60,000 per annum.

Bude and Stratton’s recently adopted neighbourhood plan also states that support for a library provision in the town is needed, and following the launch of a survey in 2014, it was revealed that residents of Bude hoped that the library would be retained and improved for the community.

The cost of the service would be funded out of the town council’s precept primarily, with any maintenance costs able to be reduced by the use of the council’s faculties team. Rental income from the library space or space in the Parkhouse Centre may also allow the council to enhance the provision of the services.

All of this was discussed at the meeting with councillors asked to give their comments on the letter, which will be sent to Cornwall Council.

Cllr Simon Browning said: “I think it’s an excellent piece of work but there needs to be mention of opening it six days a week and that we’re looking into the possibility of volunteers. I know it’s a commitment but it’s something to look at.”

The town council’s responsible finance officer, Keith Cornwell said: “There’s nothing to stop it with the volunteers. The more solid the proposal the more likely it’ll be done. Our proposal is this council has solid resources to take it on.”

Cllr Frank Partridge, who is the vice-chairman of the newly-appointed committee, said: “We’re saying that we’ll extend the hours of the library to meet the needs of the community.”

Mr Cornwell then mentioned the importance of the six car-parking spaces, which are currently free for people to use when going in there.

He said: “It’s worth noting that currently the six spaces at the front of the library is part of the Cornwall Council car park and it’s free parking when the library is opened. There can’t be a guarantee they’ll be left for the use for the library and that’s part of the current provision. We want it to go forward but we’ve been pressing not to lose that as it’d be detrimental to the growth of the library.”

Cornwall Councillor for Bude, Peter La Broy, said: “We’ve got to make sure that the car park is transferred to the harbour board. The pressure will be then to make those spaces paid. We should reiterate that it’s part of the library service, it’d be wrong to go backwards.

Deputy mayor, Cllr Lea Deely, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Cllr Moores, said: “I also want to know whether everyone who works there is DBS checked? It should be part of the agreement, it’s a children’s facility. Anyone who works there should be checked.”

Mr Cornwell then stressed the importance of approving the business case, which can then go onto the next stage.

He said: “If we can get the building it’ll be the responsibility for the council to take on the running and staff costs and so on while Cornwall Council will own the books and IT systems and so on.”

Cllr Deely then said: “As part of the deal we need to have the spaces.”

Cllr Frank Partridge then proposed that the town council continues with the take-over of the library, with the proviso that the six car parking spaces remain free for library users. This was seconded by Cllr La Broy, and the motion was supported by councillors.

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