Bromley Borough Libraries (Post your comments here) Back to Bromley Council News
13 December 2011
NO REDUCTION IN LIBRARY OPENING HOURS - further consultations to take place - Libraries Update report (submitted to Renewal and Recreation Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee
7 December 2011
The Culture, Media and Sport Committee have just launched a new inquiry into the impact of library closures. The Committee would like to receive written submissions expressing views on the following issues:
For guidance on how to submit written evidence to a Select Committee, please see the follow the link below to the Parliament website:
Culture Media and Sport Committee: Guidance on submitting written evidence
Parliamentary Communications Officer,
Houses of Parliament
London SW1A 2TT
6 August 2011 - Proposals by the Local Government Association and the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council suggest libraries could be integrated with community facilities like churches or be run in partnership with the private sector:BBC News
28 July 2011 - Guide2Bromley:Press Release - shared service with Bexley could be a cost effective solution, avoiding losing any libraries, apart from some rational merges. However the library hours proposals should be followed up to ensure draconian closures - particularly on Saturdays - are not implemented.
22 July 2011 - BROMLEY COUNCIL UPDATE:Bromley Libraries Press Release
20 July 2011 - BROMLEY COUNCIL EXECUTIVE - Item 11 Report on Future of Libraries - agenda papers here: Agenda Pack 20 July 2011
The Council Chamber was packed out (holds 130+). The Leader, Councillor Stephen Carr opened the meeting and the committee agreed to take Item 11 first, following the usual business items.
The library campaigners were there in force and Mr Kelly was invited to speak to the committee. He demanded clear answers at tonight's meeting to resolve the uncertainty for staff and library users about the threat of 8 library closures and job losses, which has been very unsettling for some months.
Council officer Mr Hulme gave feedback on the staff consultation (an additional appendix with responses was handed out at the meeting:Library Consultation Summary). He advised that some of the proposals had changed, following the consultation. More favourable offers for Bromley staff will be investigated. However, he also explained that the definition of 'librarian' did not refer only to front office staff who hand out books. There are qualified librarians who are included in back office staff, so some of their jobs are at risk.
Councillor John Getgood referred to proposals that the opposition put forward last year, which were rejected by the administration. He said that 'shared services is a done deal'.
Councillor Peter Morgan stressed that the council has to make savings of £25 million. 'We need to exploit library buildings and look at getting volunteers to help but not run the library service.'
Councillor Getgood said that 'there are a lot of inconsistencies in the report. The proposals do not give Bromley the sort of library service we expect. The people of Bromleyhave spoken strongly. We need to make the libraries vibrant again. We should start again and come up with a service we can all be proud of.'
Mr Hulme responded with ''We have done our utmost to keep an efficient service. We are confident that the frontline service will be protected. We don't want to see it wither on the vine.' The Leader added that the council was doing its best to mitigate the issues.
Councillor Nicholas Bennett assured the committee that the decision will be made 'on evidence'. He requested the figures on library usage hour by hour, which will be vital in coming to the right conclusions. He also questioned whether those using the library computers are competent computer users or those who need support from library staff.
There was also a question of whether or not to charge for computer use. Councillor Morgan stated that it had been found that the cost of having a charging system would not be viable, as the likely revenue was too small - around £5,000. He insisted that the Trust Option had been looked at and been found unlikely to be workable. However, Councillor Colin Smith said that this should be tried as it would save £400,000 in business rates.
Councillor Arthur felt that Councillor Morgan was putting forward a solution which would avoid library closures and therefore supported the recommendation.
The Executive voted unanimously in favour of taking forward the shared services project for libraries with Bexley.
Following this decision, the library campaigners regrouped outside the council chamber. Feelings were running high and Mr Kellyproposed further action to prevent any closures and to protect Bromley jobs at risk.
5 July 2011 - RENEWAL AND RECREATION POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
The meeting was well attended and the Chair moved the Libraries item to the top of the agenda.
The report under discussion can be found here:Library Report July 2011The Leader of the Council, Councillor Stephen Carr was also present at the meeting.
The option of sharing services with Bexley Borough Council means that 36 'back office' staff at Bromley are 'at risk' (35 at Bexley) - there will be 36 posts available in the shared administrative structure. However, there are some unfilled posts and a number of staff have already applied for voluntary redundancy.
A 'sample' option for cutting costs has proposals for dramatically reducing opening hours at many libraries, particularly minimising evening opening hours, with some libraries not opening on Saturdays.
Councillor Payne suggested the need to be 'more imaginative by looking at better use of the buildings'.
Councillor Michael said that there should be 'a rethink on when libraries are used. One late opening per week at the Central Library is unacceptable for working people.'
Councillor Tunnicliffe agreed libraries should be 'opened up to more uses than just books. Why not open on Sundays?'
Councillor Getgood pointed out that the proposed reduction in opening hours had no overlap - they were 'all the same' so that people would have no choice as to when they could access libraries.
Councillor Manning was allowed to speak to the committee and stressed that 'a lot more is going on in communities than just shops.' She complained that there was too much emphasis on libraries located in shopping centres.
Several councillors' comments pointed to the need to have a greater understanding of people's lifestyles - working people want to access services out of normal office hours and at weekends. Other activities going on around library sites should be looked at to see how the library fits into the community structure.
Another proposal to introduce charges for the People's Network found universal disfavour.
The committee noted the report and recommendations and the comments were noted to be put to the Executive, which is taking a decision on 20 July.
An 'interesting' report of the meeting has also been posted on the Council website (dated 12 July): LBB PDS Report
There is an active Library Campaign, whose members attended the meeting in force. In April, Claire Molony and Colleen Forward handed a petition to Bromley council leader, Councillor Stephen Carr, with 1,200 signatures against the possible closure of Burnt Ash Library.