Agenda, decisions and minutes
That the minutes of the meeting held on 7 March 2012 be approved as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest were made.
To answer any written and/or oral questions from a County Councillor or anyone living or working in the county, or who is affected by the work of the County Council, about matters which relates to any item on the agenda for this meeting.
Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
The closing date/time for receipt of written questions is 10 am on Tuesday 3 April 2012. Please send questions to the Chief Executive marked for the attention of Jane Cleaver.
An oral question may be asked by a member of the public if notice of the question is given to the person presiding or the Chief Executive’s representative by the questioner at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the meeting.
(Depending on the nature of the questions asked it may not be possible to provide a comprehensive answer at the meeting, in which case a written answer will be supplied as soon as reasonably possible after the meeting.)
Questions received and proposed responses do not accompany this agenda but will be circulated prior to the meeting.
Three written questions had been received. The questions and answers were taken as read. Four supplementary questions were asked and answers given as indicated:
Nigel Jones: Mr Jones thanked the Chairman for the written answer but commented that he felt that the answer was factually incorrect, drawing particular attention to the bus journey times and the length of time of a round trip because of the wait in Fairford. Mr Jones asked the following supplementary question - In view of the clear and feasible case for the continuation of a local library in Lechlade presented to you earlier and in a written question, which will still meet the cost savings that GCC is looking to make through a community contribution of £10,000 and other resources; will the Cabinet reconsider its proposals to close the county managed library in Lechlade? In view of the recent judgement in the High Court relating to the failure of Surrey County Council to meet equality standards in the withdrawal of paid staff, are the GCC proposals also unlawful and should be withdrawn.
Cllr Hawthorne answered: I think that we have answered some of the points raised in both your original and supplementary questions. We will be debating the content of the report and the recommendations later in the meeting, and I am sure that members will take into consideration the content of both your submissions at that time.
Andrew Maliphant: I am glad to know that there remains scope for individual negotiation as every place is different. My concern is that without long term commitment on lease renewal the third best used library for its catchment and the best in the county for use of computers might be unilaterally and finally closed by a future administration, that also makes savings by cutting local worker buses, leaving vulnerable people with a 45 minute bus and foot journey to Gloucester library. My supplementary question is around single department savings – why has Gloucestershire not taken the ‘community hub’ approach of the Prime Minister’s county and sought to keep libraries going as we suggested by linking them to other county objectives around adult education, business development, young people not in education, employment and training etc, thus securing extra public benefits and more savings?
Cllr Hawthorne answered: With regard to the first point, dependent upon the decision taken later in the meeting relating to community libraries, we will be happy to negotiate lease arrangements on an individual basis.
With regard to aligning with other council strategic priorities the cabinet report shows that this has already clearly been taken into account. The proposed library strategy talks of libraries being the front door to all council services and this is fully embedded and incorporated in the proposals that Cabinet are being asked to consider today. The issues raised have been taken into account as part of the proposals put forward by officers and are embedded within the overall library strategy being considered today.
Sarah Howard: I urge ... view the full minutes text for item 25.
To take a decision as to the future Library Strategy for Gloucestershire, taking into account inter alia the feedback from the consultation on the draft Strategy and having due regard to the statutory equality needs.
Consultation report attached – main report to follow.
That approval is given to:
1. The Vision and Outcomes for the new Library Strategy.
2. The development of the Virtual Library Service.
3. The provision of the static library network as listed below:
9 council-run Main Libraries: Gloucester, Cheltenham, Stroud, Dursley, Tewkesbury, Cirencester, Coleford, Newent and Stow
22 council-run Local Libraries: Lydney, Tetbury, Fairford, Chipping Campden, Winchcombe, Bishop’s Cleeve, Quedgeley, Hucclecote, Longlevens, Up Hatherley, Charlton Kings, Cinderford, Hester’s Way, Matson, Tuffley, Prestbury, Churchdown, Stonehouse, Nailsworth, Wotton-under-Edge, Moreton-in-Marsh and Bourton-on-the-Water
Non statutory provision:
7 community-run libraries: Berkeley, Brockworth, Bream, Minchinhampton, Lechlade, Mitcheldean and Newnham
4. a. The core opening hours for each local library as proposed in the draft strategy and outlined in Appendix 7.
b. Consultation about the allocation of opening hours across the week in each local community (It should be noted that consultation about opening hours at Main libraries is not being undertaken as these opening hours are not changing and consultation with communities about their allocation was undertaken in the summer of 2011).
c. Feasibility studies and consultation in local areas where alternative locations for libraries have been suggested.
5. A six month transition period during which community libraries will operate as council-run libraries to facilitate the smooth transition to community run libraries.
6. The replacement of the existing mobile library service by a Public Sector Mobile library service and extended use of the Share a Book Mobile for children.
7. That the document “Developing a new strategy for library services in Gloucestershire” is amended according to the recommendations outlined in this report and that this is approved as the final library strategy for Gloucestershire.
At the invitation of Cllr Hawthorne, Leader of the Council, Jo Grills, Operations Director (Education, Learning and Libraries), gave a detailed presentation to Cabinet on the process and activity that has taken place since the Cabinet took its decision, on 20 January 2012, to consult on the proposals for the library strategy. (The presentation slides have been published on the council’s web site and included in the minute book for information.)
The Operations Director explained that the process had been subject to rigorous governance arrangements with a project group of senior officers reporting weekly to a Sponsoring Group with the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive acting as sponsors; and that an independent company, Vector Research, had been engaged to undertake the consultation on the council’s behalf, in order to ensure independence. The Consultation Institute had been engaged in order to offer quality assurance to the process.
It was further explained that during the consultation process requests for further information and for data to be checked were received. Meetings also took place with community groups and other interested groups in order to respond to questions and to receive information. All requests, comments and challenges have been logged and responded to. Where necessary data has been verified or investigated, and has been used to inform the context and user needs assessment. The Equality and Community Impact Assessment (ECIA) has been updated through this process, drawing on issues raised by individual communities and feedback from the consultation. The feedback from the deliberative workshops which had been undertaken with protected groups had been particularly useful.
The governance arrangements ensured that all issues, potential mitigating actions and alternative options coming through from the consultation were discussed with the Sponsoring Group; and that all cabinet members were also regularly briefed on these matters during this period. A representative from Vector Research had presented the final consultation report to all Cabinet members on 26 March 2012.
The Operations Director clarified that the updated context and user needs assessment and revised equality and community impact assessment had been taken into account in the amendments to the library strategy for approval by Cabinet today.
Before Cabinet Members made their decision the Operations Director drew attention to the council’s legal duties as described in the cabinet report. To the effect that Section 7 of the Public Libraries and Museums Act required the council to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service for all persons wishing to make use of it.
The Operations Director also drew attention to the council’s public sector equality duty outlined in the Equality Act 2010 (Section 149). Cabinet members had fully explored this duty in their training session with the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which had emphasised that this duty was not just about avoiding making things worse, for the protected characteristics groups; but to also make the most of opportunities for positive impact.
An important aspect for Cabinet members to consider as part of their decision making ... view the full minutes text for item 26.
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