Library Working Group report to 14 February

Nether Stowey Parish Council

Library Working Group

Report 1 – 14 February 2018

Introduction

The creation of a Parish Council Library Working Group was approved at the Nether Stowey Parish Council (NSPC) meeting on 12 February and this is the Working Group’s initial report

The work required to enable the continued presence of a physical library service in Nether Stowey involves two key aspects, namely:

  • Ownership and management of the physical building (the ‘old school’)
  • The development and ongoing support of a community-managed library service

These two points are addressed in the following sections.

Building

Somerset County Council Libraries have offered to transfer ownership of the building for a nominal fee and have offered to contribute towards running costs.  However, and as reported at the Parish Council meeting, if NSPC were to incur the balance of the running costs, the impact on the Parish Precept would be in excess of 20% on every council tax payer whether they used the library or not.  NSPC are not prepared to approach such an increase without holding a referendum of all parishioners.

One option to help secure the future of the building would be to form a consortium or joint venture with other bodies who might be able to utilise the building.  As reported, SCC Libraries have agreed to consider such an arrangement (meeting held on 29 January) and discussions are underway with a number of prospective organisations.

Library Service

SCC Libraries have indicated their possible interest in the creation of a community-led library service in Nether Stowey and provision exists within existing legislation for such a service to be enacted.

It should be noted that should consortium / joint venture with other organisations be created for the ongoing use of the building, it is almost certain that the space currently used by the library service would need to reduce to provide floor space for other organisations.

A number of web sites with relevant and supporting information regarding the creation and management of community library services have been identified.  Investigations undertaken to date by the Library Working Group indicate that the work involved in creating and running a community managed service is not inconsiderable and would require

  • agreements with SCC Libraries regarding acceptable levels of service
  • process for monitoring and reporting of services
  • identifying and manging volunteers

Conclusions and Recommendations

The initial conclusion is that NSPC does not have the resources to undertake all the work outlined above, Parish Council resources are already focussed on statutory obligations, planning permissions, standing bodies, etc and there are limits on what additional work can be undertaken, especially given the timescales involved with the library consultation.

In addition, it is also doubtful that NSPC will have the necessary resources, or powers (item still under investigation) to assume the ongoing management and provision of a library service. The Parish Council is taking legal advice on this point.

It is therefore recommended that:

  1. The Library Working Group focus on the possible creation of a consortium or joint venture for the future use of the building
  2. That other community-based organisations undertake the investigations into, creation of and be responsible for the ongoing management of a community-based library service

Obviously the Library Working Group would liaise closely with and support, where possible, the other community organisation but if a future library service is to be secured within the Parish, the wider community must become more involved.

Click here to download this report

Somerset Libraries Review and Consultation – update

PRINTED VERSIONS OF THE PROPOSALS AND QUESTIONNAIRES ARE NOW AVAILABLE FROM THE PARISH OFFICE AND POST OFFICE.

Somerset County Council (SCC) are looking at how to deliver library services across the county in the face of an increasingly difficult financial situation. A public consultation period started on 29 January and runs until 22 April. Details are on the notice board, from the Library and the Parish Office and at http://netherstowey-pc.gov.uk/somerset-libraries-review-and-consultation/.
There are two possible options for Nether Stowey Library.:
1) a partnership with the local community to maintain the library building with SCC funding contribution
2) mobile library service

Representatives of the Parish Council and FONSL first met with Library Services on 24 October. Details were reported at the November Parish Council meeting and again at the December meeting after further details were provided.

Nether Stowey Library has a catchment covering the area from Kilve to Stogursey, Fiddington, Spaxton and Over Stowey, an estimated population of 4,700. The number of users for the whole of this area is estimated at 366, of which two-thirds are Nether Stowey residents, and one-third from elsewhere. These figures were provided by SCC Library Services and can be seen in more detail in the consultation document.

You may have been told that the Parish Council is “doing nothing to save the Library”. This is far from the truth.

It is an attractive proposition to take on the library building as a community asset. But it is a potentially expensive responsibility and not one the Parish Council can take on lightly without consultation with the community who have to pay for it. The basic annual running costs are approximately £13-15,000. This would require an increase to your Council Tax of about £22 per year for every household – Library users or not. We are aware of some issues with the existing building which will probably require funding to bring it up to a reasonable standard. Without a building survey of the building we do not everything about its condition – we could end up with a hefty bill for unforeseen repairs and we would need to start building up an additional contingency fund.

So we have suggested possible “joint ventures” and had preliminary discussions with some organisations who might be interested. Further meetings are planned later this month. We discussed these ideas with the County Council representative on 29 January. It was agreed that at this stage discussions can only be in very broad outline and nothing can be progressed far until the consultation results have been fully analysed and the County Council have made a decision.

If this path is possible it will mean compromise as to how much of the library’s space can be given up to create viable accommodation for another “occupant”, and there may be work required to achieve this.

We also have to be sure that we can manage sustainable Library Services. This mean an adequate and committed volunteer team for the long term and possibly “buying in” professional librarian services to support the volunteer team – more costs.

These are big decisions and not ones we can take with knowing the community’s views. It would be irresponsible to make commitments without knowing the extent of that commitment. And none of this can go forward until we know the County Council’s decision.

Important Dates:
Consultation period runs until 22 April
The main consultation documents and questionnaire for this area is available from the Parish Office and the library or online at http://somersetlibraries.co.uk/consultation/. There you will find links to the proposals, more detailed information and the online questionnaire.
14 February from 2pm – Consultation Drop-in event at Nether Stowey Library
Meet representatives of Library Services and join in a group discussion.
12 March – Nether Stowey Parish Council meeting
Mr Oliver Woodhams from the County Council will be joining the Parish Council meeting on Monday 12 March when he will talk about the proposals and hopefully provide some thoughts on the local consultation.
9 April – Nether Stowey Parish Council meeting
The Parish Council will agree the their formal response to the consultation.

Lime Street Pedestrian Safety Works

Phase 2 works will resume on 12 February for a period of 3- 4 weeks, assuming all goes to plan. Arrangements are as follows:

The road closure will be managed as it was in October. A traffic manager will be on site during the works and will allow access to residents and businesses whilst the works are in progress and when it is safe to do so. This may mean waiting, for example, while machinery is operating by the road. This for your own safety and that of those working on the site.

There may be times when the nature of the work requires that the road – or part of it – is completely closed, but you will generally be able to park in the evening. Please take heed of any areas with temporary restrictions
(eg coned or fenced off).

There will be no further trees removed from the bank on the south.

Further work on trimming the trees around the power cable pole. This is under discussion between Somerset County Council (SCC) and Western Power.

There will be some trimming of the trees on the north side of Lime Street on Highways land where this is necessary for the scheme (detail to be decided on site).

The footpath between Lime Street and Coleridge Road will also be closed

Please see also:

Latest version of the plan
Road Closure notice
Footpath Closure Notice
Road Closure / Diversion map

Note all open in new windows/tabs

Somerset Libraries Review and Consultation

Library Services Consultation Announced

A consultation on the future of how Somerset County Council library services could be delivered across Somerset is due to start at the end of this month.

A formal decision was taken on 18 January to consult on a set of proposals that seek to put the service on a sustainable footing for the long-term, at a time when all Council budgets are under enormous pressure.

The decision sets out that a public consultation will start on 29 January and run for 12 weeks (ending 22 April) and invites members of the public, businesses and organisations for their views  Click here to read the full press release

The proposals and the questionnaire are now available online at www.somerset.gov.uk/librariesconsultation.

The proposals for the Bridgwater (including Nether Stowey) is now also available here

You can get printed copies of the proposal and the questionnaire at the Parish Office.

There will be a consultation event at Nether Stowey Library on Wednesday 14 February at 2-5pm. Small group discussions will take place at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm. Feel free to join a session or just drop in between 2pm and 5pm to talk to the Libraries team.

Mr Oliver Woodhams from the County Council will be joining the Parish Council meeting on Monday 12 March when he will talk about the proposals and hopefully be able to provide some thoughts on the local consultation event on 14 February.