The original racy programme to push through the conversions of 10 libraries into Community Managed Libraries before the end of 2017 is failing already. Is the public seeing through this proposal? Is the interest there? Is it proving to be as difficult as the Council was advised?
Originally the start of the “Expression of Interest process” was planned for Monday 24th July – 12 days after the Cabinet Decision to proceed with option B+. On Friday 21st July, just before 5pm, the Head of Democracy , David Walsh, notified the Council Cabinet and Executive Scrutiny Board members, that a Call-In had been received ( a challenge by 3 Conservative Councillors regarding the decision, which then requires a formal review). Although no further work was allowed at this point, it was 1 working day before the start of the planned commencement so after the Call-in meeting on the 1 August, the process could have re-started, immediately.
Why didn’t it?
An email issued, today (25 August 2017), by Head of Library Services, David Potton, has re-scheduled this back by a further 5 weeks – so the whole process does not start, now, until 4 September 2017.
The deadline for Stage 2 : Application submission was 23 October 2017, and is now 4 December 2017.
The Evaluation panel will meet “later in December” – this was originally planned for late October – 2 months delay.
“Decisions on applications are expected from January 2018 onwards” as opposed to the original plan which was before Xmas.
About 1-2 weeks delay could be explained by the Call-In process. The objective of this Library restructure was to save money in the current financial year, and subsequent years, which means that the sacking of the 40+ staff, and the training of the hundreds of volunteers must take place well in advance of March 2018. The plan was that the Council would save ~ £330k in 2017/18, in reality this plan will result in more cost to the Council this year.
Where will this money come from?
Or does this mean that the financial constraints that the Council claims to be under, and which it states is driving this decision are perhaps a little more fluid than they would like us all to believe?
Does this mean, what is evident to many “on the ground”, that there is very little interest from volunteer groups to run Community Managed Libraries because, even on superficial investigation, it is clearly a burdensome, “poisoned chalice”?
Also for those who are acutely conscious of Social Justice, and modern ethics in employment rights, they would not want to be part of an exercise where their action to volunteer deprives someone of paid work.
This is tantamount to “crossing the picket line” – anathema to the Labour Party, but seemingly not to the Labour group at Derby City Council.
Surely everyone can see this?