To comment and endorse or make recommendations to the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services on the proposed decision to adopt the 3 year strategy for Libraries, Registration and Archives and implement the proposal to tier libraries and introduce a new opening hours model across the county. Specifically to:
A) Adopt the 3 year LRA strategy subject to changes being included as outlined in this report;
B) Implement the library tiering model and progress to local engagement regarding the pattern of opening hours for each library;
C) Delegate the decision on the exact opening hours for each library to the Libraries, Registration & Archives Head of Service in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory services; and
D) Agree to a review of the tiering model on a 2-year cycle – with a report to this committee on any changes proposed.
James Pearson (Head of Libraries, Registration & Archives) and Jacki Taylor-Smith (Strategic Manager Business Development Libraries, Registration and Archives) were in attendance for this item.
1. Mr M Hill, OBE (Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services) introduced the report that summarised the results of the recent public consultation on the draft three-year Libraries, Registration and Archives (LRA) Strategy and its proposals to review library opening hours through a new tiering model.
2. Mr Pearson and Mrs Taylor-Smith presented a series of slides that summarised the results of the public consultation, the changes proposed as a result of the consultation and the proposed strategy for implementation which had been produced using an evidenced based approach to ensure fairness to all library services across the county.
3. The Chairman commended the Libraries, Registration and Archives service for managing to retain all 99 libraries and continuing to meet local demands whilst tasked with delivering revenue savings.
4. Mr Rayner (Member for Malling West) attended the meeting and thanked Mr M Hill for the reallocation of the Hildenborough library from tier five to tier four following representations made in January 2019. However, in relation to the proposed tiering model and the impact of reduced opening hours on the Borough Green library centre, Mr Rayner addressed the detrimental impact of this on service users and put forth the positive proposals from representatives on the Kent Association of Local Councils (Borough Green, Wrotham, Ightham, Plaxtol, Platt) to:
(a) review the allocated tiering; and
(b) provide replacement funding from the aforementioned Parish Councils to substitute lost central government and retain the existing library opening hours.
5. The officers and Cabinet Member responded to comments and questions as follows
(a) In response to Mr Rayner’s proposal to review the tiering for Borough Green library, Mr Hill confirmed that the rdata on the usage of Borough Green library did not support the request at the current point in time, however, assured the Committee that the Library, Registration and Archives service would continue to undergo constant review and that the LRA Strategy would be reviewed at regular intervals. In response to Mr Rayner’s proposal to provide replacement funding through Parish Council contributions, Mr Hill advised the Committee that following the meeting between Mr Rayner, Mr Pearson and himself, it was agreed that further work needed to be done to ascertain the wider implications of the proposal in terms of Human Resources, staffing and the possible risks involved should Parish Council revenue cease to exist. Mr Hill said that Kent County Council works in close partnership with the Parish Councils to support the Libraries, Registration and Archives Service and agreed to review Mr Rayner’s proposal in due course following the implementation of the three-year LRA strategy.
(b) With regards to the consultation criteria and whether this measured areas of social deprivation, Mr Pearson said that the ‘need’ data collated as part of the consultation criteria was key to determining where libraries should be located, and the proposed new strategy ensured retention ... view the full minutes text for item 136