Community groups asked to takeover management of Wirral libraries

Flashback to 2009: Library closure plan sparked a public outcry

Flashback to 2009: Library closure plan sparked a public outcry

First published in News
Last updated
by , Geoff Barnes

A major shake-up of the Wirral library network could see local community groups running part or all of more than a dozen "re-modelled" libraries across the peninsula.

The move – being studied by Wirral Council cabinet this week – has been compelled by financial pressures from a Government squeeze on local authority resources.

A report to cabinet on Thursday indicates local community groups are aware of the pressures on libraries, have offered assistance and acknowledged that libraries "cannot be protected over other services."

It says that by 2016, overall council funding will have been cut by more than 50% through Government grant reductions over a four-year period. A further 500 staff are expected to lose their jobs before Christmas.

Five years ago the planned shutdown of 11 of Wirral’s 24 libraries was met with public outrage.

A public inquiry was ordered into the proposal, which claimed £20m savings from the closures would be spent on neighbourhood multi-purpose centres across Wirral under the banner "fewer but better."

The so-called "Strategic Asset Review" was seen as the Labour administration's flagship policy but was eventually abandoned in chaos.

A special library strategy, set up in December 2011, advocated libraries should be regarded as both a services and welcoming places that met the needs of the community.

Suggested targets included the merging of key sites as library one-stop shops, which is now well under way.

Councillors have been told the merging of libraries with one-stop shops and the inclusion of public services and voluntary partners has "enhanced sites as community and neighbourhood focal points."

The report claims local community involvement in the running of libraries offers a range of benefits apart from reduced operating costs.

They include bringing "renewed energy and innovation to the service; enabling the libraries to stay open longer and increased use by local people through an enhanced sense of ownership.”

Thursday’s report indicates the traditional role of libraries of book lending was now matched by a community role in offering activities and services such as baby bounce, reading groups and friends and user groups.

The Government, Local Government Association, the Arts Council and the Society of Chief Librarians all recognise the changing role of libraries and how community libraries will continue to play a part in localities.

Cabinet members are being asked to allow officers to open talks with local groups regarding their degree of involvement in running community libraries.

 

Comments (14)

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12:45pm Mon 16 Jun 14

BlueHue says...

'The Leisure Peninsula', eh?
'The Leisure Peninsula', eh? BlueHue
  • Score: 4

1:14pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Mentioned this in another thread. This is the Councils Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) in practice.

I understand Libraries are very important to some. However, I believe 24 is too many for Wirral. I know this viewpoint will be unpopular but believe higher priorities can be found like services for the vulnerable.

I would look to strategically reduce this amount to say 4 per Constituency. That would still leave 16 key located Libraries across the borough which should be enough to enable people to still access a Livrary close to their home.
Mentioned this in another thread. This is the Councils Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) in practice. I understand Libraries are very important to some. However, I believe 24 is too many for Wirral. I know this viewpoint will be unpopular but believe higher priorities can be found like services for the vulnerable. I would look to strategically reduce this amount to say 4 per Constituency. That would still leave 16 key located Libraries across the borough which should be enough to enable people to still access a Livrary close to their home. Joeblogg85
  • Score: 4

1:28pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

No mention of the Council Nurseries closing as reported in another Merseyside Newspaper is worrying!
No mention of the Council Nurseries closing as reported in another Merseyside Newspaper is worrying! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 2

3:49pm Mon 16 Jun 14

minimad69 says...

As one who was involved in throwing out the last ill-thought out farcical suggestions - I see this as a continuation of the hate campaign, instigated by the former Labour leader (who couldn't 'see the point in libraries at all - as I don't use them') and his supposedly apolitical head of the Regeneration Dept.

JoeBloggs - I can guarantee that you have put more thought into your strategic proposal than the council ever has...absolutely guarantee it..

It is literally the thin end of the wedge - they will cut everything except their perks....if we allow this - then it will be 'open house' on any service.

BTW - I call myself a left-winger - I find this council distinctly right-wing and reminiscent of the Tory Govt. of the 90's - stumbling from scandal to inept decisions time after time...
As one who was involved in throwing out the last ill-thought out farcical suggestions - I see this as a continuation of the hate campaign, instigated by the former Labour leader (who couldn't 'see the point in libraries at all - as I don't use them') and his supposedly apolitical head of the Regeneration Dept. JoeBloggs - I can guarantee that you have put more thought into your strategic proposal than the council ever has...absolutely guarantee it.. It is literally the thin end of the wedge - they will cut everything except their perks....if we allow this - then it will be 'open house' on any service. BTW - I call myself a left-winger - I find this council distinctly right-wing and reminiscent of the Tory Govt. of the 90's - stumbling from scandal to inept decisions time after time... minimad69
  • Score: 8

3:58pm Mon 16 Jun 14

minimad69 says...

"libraries cannot be protected over other services." - quick translation = 'libraries will be considered first, due to the temerity displayed 5 years ago in calling the Councils bluff'.
"libraries cannot be protected over other services." - quick translation = 'libraries will be considered first, due to the temerity displayed 5 years ago in calling the Councils bluff'. minimad69
  • Score: 6

6:34pm Mon 16 Jun 14

davepeddie says...

I am honestly almost lost for words. Let's make one thing crystal clear. This is exactly the same plan as was proposed in 2008/9 by the Labour group under Cllr Steve Foulkes. In the resulting Public enquiry, chaired by Sue Charteris, the Council was completely castigated. A shambles doesn't even begin to describe it.

Yet, here it is again. Why? The obvious reason is that libraries are a soft and vulnerable target. But did you know this: LIBRARIES ARE A STATUTORY SERVICE. In other words, by law a Council MUST provided a 'comprehensive library service'?

Yes, we probably do have too many libraries, by about 5, but do NOT believe the rhetoric of the 'community libraries' cartel. They will tell you that traditional book lending, activities and services such as baby bounce, reading groups and friends and user groups, computer provision, and computer guidance and help can be provided by volunteers and still maintain the same level of service provision.

Do NOT believe them when they tell you that 'community libraries' will bring, "renewed energy and innovation to the service; enabling the libraries to stay open longer and increased use by local people through an enhanced sense of ownership.” It is a tissue of lies and generally, NOT borne out by those libraries up and down the country which were laid on the alter of the great god of ‘community libraries’. It is not working in the way they want you to believe that it is.

I would challenge Wirral Council to produce evidence of how this is going to work in Wirral and achieve all that they say it will achieve.
I am honestly almost lost for words. Let's make one thing crystal clear. This is exactly the same plan as was proposed in 2008/9 by the Labour group under Cllr Steve Foulkes. In the resulting Public enquiry, chaired by Sue Charteris, the Council was completely castigated. A shambles doesn't even begin to describe it. Yet, here it is again. Why? The obvious reason is that libraries are a soft and vulnerable target. But did you know this: LIBRARIES ARE A STATUTORY SERVICE. In other words, by law a Council MUST provided a 'comprehensive library service'? Yes, we probably do have too many libraries, by about 5, but do NOT believe the rhetoric of the 'community libraries' cartel. They will tell you that traditional book lending, activities and services such as baby bounce, reading groups and friends and user groups, computer provision, and computer guidance and help can be provided by volunteers and still maintain the same level of service provision. Do NOT believe them when they tell you that 'community libraries' will bring, "renewed energy and innovation to the service; enabling the libraries to stay open longer and increased use by local people through an enhanced sense of ownership.” It is a tissue of lies and generally, NOT borne out by those libraries up and down the country which were laid on the alter of the great god of ‘community libraries’. It is not working in the way they want you to believe that it is. I would challenge Wirral Council to produce evidence of how this is going to work in Wirral and achieve all that they say it will achieve. davepeddie
  • Score: 15

7:22pm Mon 16 Jun 14

frank h says...

What the hell is going on in the Labour party to even contemplate closing of libraries. Firstly the council has a legal obligation to provide comprehensive service. Secondly while it seems a great idea for community ownership this was presented to other facilities under the S.A.R. apart from civic centre in Heswall no other facility was put into community hands. indeed W.B.C. put Byrne Avenue baths into community ownership only to close due to lack of funding and W.B.C. holding their hands up saying "nothing to do with us guv". with less funding now what community group would want to take the responsibility of being the ones to close down a needed community facility. Has the Labour group no memory of what happened with many Labour party members leaving the party myself being one.Councillors being challenged by communities they are supposed to represent and in the end at a public meeting in the Floral Pavilion chaired by Sue Charteris the rejection and castigation of the actions of the Labour group. i would like at this stage to ask all Labour Councillors to reject this report at its earliest opportunity. if any Councillor feel that there seat is safe then they should look at the Green Party taking the Birkenhead and Tranmere ward and say could that happen to me?
What the hell is going on in the Labour party to even contemplate closing of libraries. Firstly the council has a legal obligation to provide comprehensive service. Secondly while it seems a great idea for community ownership this was presented to other facilities under the S.A.R. apart from civic centre in Heswall no other facility was put into community hands. indeed W.B.C. put Byrne Avenue baths into community ownership only to close due to lack of funding and W.B.C. holding their hands up saying "nothing to do with us guv". with less funding now what community group would want to take the responsibility of being the ones to close down a needed community facility. Has the Labour group no memory of what happened with many Labour party members leaving the party myself being one.Councillors being challenged by communities they are supposed to represent and in the end at a public meeting in the Floral Pavilion chaired by Sue Charteris the rejection and castigation of the actions of the Labour group. i would like at this stage to ask all Labour Councillors to reject this report at its earliest opportunity. if any Councillor feel that there seat is safe then they should look at the Green Party taking the Birkenhead and Tranmere ward and say could that happen to me? frank h
  • Score: 6

10:21pm Mon 16 Jun 14

It's all gone to pot says...

If this council had any pride and scruples they would admit they are in way over their heads, this is no place for the amateur. Haven't heard anything about the Pictures and Furniture in the council coffers collecting dust which they need to sell.This is desperate measures for different times.Lets not take the easy option, again.
If this council had any pride and scruples they would admit they are in way over their heads, this is no place for the amateur. Haven't heard anything about the Pictures and Furniture in the council coffers collecting dust which they need to sell.This is desperate measures for different times.Lets not take the easy option, again. It's all gone to pot
  • Score: 3

10:36pm Mon 16 Jun 14

hobroW says...

As in other threads the Labour group should hand over the administration to conservative and Liberal democrats abstaining from critical votes and thereby putting flesh to their claim to oppose the cuts.

Wnat is stopping this act of principle?-love of power and its perquisites and salary,

Radical times need radical side-taking as the extreme Labour wing said two years ago. Otherwise the Labour fgroup is endortsing govt policy by carrying it out.
As in other threads the Labour group should hand over the administration to conservative and Liberal democrats abstaining from critical votes and thereby putting flesh to their claim to oppose the cuts. Wnat is stopping this act of principle?-love of power and its perquisites and salary, Radical times need radical side-taking as the extreme Labour wing said two years ago. Otherwise the Labour fgroup is endortsing govt policy by carrying it out. hobroW
  • Score: 2

10:37pm Mon 16 Jun 14

hobroW says...

Several years ago the brief for Asset transfer was handed to wirralbiz who acted in 66% of the cases

Nuff said!!
Several years ago the brief for Asset transfer was handed to wirralbiz who acted in 66% of the cases Nuff said!! hobroW
  • Score: 2

12:18pm Tue 17 Jun 14

Hugo1008 says...

Here we go again, the hideous face of so called New Labour, just another guise for Champagne Socialist, remember it was the two Stevie Blunders (Flooke's and Madsocks) last time both equally inept and useless at their respective jobs.
Now the deluded administration have even made the worst of the two a Mayor of Wirral what an insult, and the other one was made a freeman of the Borough, going off into the sunset with pockets bulging with your money.

And remember the prat who went to the Local Bookshop rather than the Local Library, he led the cavalcade of waste of space high end employees who one after another sloped off into the murky depths of so called public service, with other equally gullible councils, and again pockets jingling with your money.

Millions of pounds wasted and plundered by the wort set of Wirral Borough Council both elected and employed in the entire history of Wirral.
Guess what you even voted for some of them quite recently will you never learn.
For pity's sake let us reject the whole kit and caboodle of the useless Party Political Parasite Stooges once and for all.
Here we go again, the hideous face of so called New Labour, just another guise for Champagne Socialist, remember it was the two Stevie Blunders (Flooke's and Madsocks) last time both equally inept and useless at their respective jobs. Now the deluded administration have even made the worst of the two a Mayor of Wirral what an insult, and the other one was made a freeman of the Borough, going off into the sunset with pockets bulging with your money. And remember the prat who went to the Local Bookshop rather than the Local Library, he led the cavalcade of waste of space high end employees who one after another sloped off into the murky depths of so called public service, with other equally gullible councils, and again pockets jingling with your money. Millions of pounds wasted and plundered by the wort set of Wirral Borough Council both elected and employed in the entire history of Wirral. Guess what you even voted for some of them quite recently will you never learn. For pity's sake let us reject the whole kit and caboodle of the useless Party Political Parasite Stooges once and for all. Hugo1008
  • Score: 5

12:24pm Wed 18 Jun 14

minimad69 says...

Just a little comment on unpaid volunteers...
They ARE unpaid and consequently worry less about taking time off at short notice, opening late and closing early - putting their 'work' behind family and other priorities.
In the case of the libraries - this will lead to poor customer service, unreliable services and the ultimate (which is probably one of the aims) closure of a branch - as 'not fit for purpose' - in others words, closure via a long and painful process.
I have seen this process happen time and time again - in other sectors.
BTW - don't blame the volunteers - blame the council.....
Just a little comment on unpaid volunteers... They ARE unpaid and consequently worry less about taking time off at short notice, opening late and closing early - putting their 'work' behind family and other priorities. In the case of the libraries - this will lead to poor customer service, unreliable services and the ultimate (which is probably one of the aims) closure of a branch - as 'not fit for purpose' - in others words, closure via a long and painful process. I have seen this process happen time and time again - in other sectors. BTW - don't blame the volunteers - blame the council..... minimad69
  • Score: 5

11:56am Sat 21 Jun 14

reliant22 says...

Is there anyone prepared to start a revolution?
Seeing as the general Public are seemingly.....either quite happy......could not care less.....ignorant of what the Council is doing WRONG or blindingly keeping their eyes closed because their tradition is to always vote Labour? Otherwise why would anyone vote for : Sheer ARROGANCE, (WE NOW HAVE TOTAL POWER) LACK OF CARE FOR DEMOCRACY (THEY HAVE KILLED IT)
LOOKING AFTER THEIR OWN INTERESTS, NO RESPECT FOR THE OPPOSITION PARTIES ELECTED BY A MAJORITY OF WIRRAL RESIDENTS.
I totally agree with the sentiments in the letter from ex Labour Councillor to the Globe from Dennis Knowles......A SHAME HE LEFT IT SO LONG TO SAY IT!!!!
Revolution and people power, like the campaigners to save Lyndale School is what we need, not rhetoric.
Is there anyone prepared to start a revolution? Seeing as the general Public are seemingly.....either quite happy......could not care less.....ignorant of what the Council is doing WRONG or blindingly keeping their eyes closed because their tradition is to always vote Labour? Otherwise why would anyone vote for : Sheer ARROGANCE, (WE NOW HAVE TOTAL POWER) LACK OF CARE FOR DEMOCRACY (THEY HAVE KILLED IT) LOOKING AFTER THEIR OWN INTERESTS, NO RESPECT FOR THE OPPOSITION PARTIES ELECTED BY A MAJORITY OF WIRRAL RESIDENTS. I totally agree with the sentiments in the letter from ex Labour Councillor to the Globe from Dennis Knowles......A SHAME HE LEFT IT SO LONG TO SAY IT!!!! Revolution and people power, like the campaigners to save Lyndale School is what we need, not rhetoric. reliant22
  • Score: 2

4:40pm Sat 21 Jun 14

Joeblogg85 says...

Wirral a council has been a basket case for years. The Council meetings are akin to a panto!
Wirral a council has been a basket case for years. The Council meetings are akin to a panto! Joeblogg85
  • Score: 2

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