In its search for continuous improvement, and to reduce costs, the library service has recently completed a review which achieves a reduction in the library service’s staffing budget of £227,000 for 2015-16 while seeking to retain and improve current levels of service.
The opening hours of the Community Partnered Libraries (CPLs) are out of scope, as opening hours are set by local steering groups, within an agreed framework with local committees as set out in the county council’s Constitution.
(Report and annex attached).
The Local Committee (Tandridge) resolved to agree:
(i) the proposed changes to opening hours for Caterham Hill library, as set out in section 9 of the report and Annex One.
Declaration of Interest: Mr Orrick declared a pecuniary interest during the item and abstained from the vote
Officers attending: Kelly Saini Badwal, Senior Manager, Customer Network and Rose Wilson, Library Operations Manager.
The Officer presented the report to the Committee as part of the library service staffing review. Caterham Hill library is the only library in Tandridge where change is being proposed to the opening hours. The Senior Manager, Customer Network, highlighted that the total number of hours remains the same at 30 hours per week, but the pattern of the hours will change.
Members Discussion – Key points
· Members were disappointed that staff at the library had been advised that they could not speak with Councillors about the staffing review. Members were keen that county council staff should be able to discuss issues affecting service quality with councillors. Members agreed to write to David McNulty on their concerns of staff not being able to contact and talk to their local Councillor.
· Mrs Marks stated that she was happy with the report and that she was pleased to see the library open on a Monday.
· Mr Skellett asked for clarification of sustainability of new regime. The Service attempted to make savings of £227,000 by looking at job roles and distribution. Through this review the service has retained opening hours, but not lost the full time equivalent. In response to concerns raised about the quality and timeliness of communication from managers with staff, the Library Operations Manager advised that any review is difficult and there has been as much communication as possible, with staff involvement in workshops, and regular scheduled meetings with the relevant trade unions (UNISON and GMB).
· Mr Sydney stated he had concerns regarding the process and consultation involving staff. The Officer responded that the aim was to keep as many people in post as possible, following the county council’s ‘Managing Change’ process. Where an issue was identified recently in relation to how staff had been notified of the possibility of redundancy, the service agreed with the trade unions to provide clarification in the staff bulletin. Mr Sydney also asked if library users had been consulted. The Officer advised that visit data was used, as well as the results from a prior ‘lapsed user’ survey and that the review had tried to address the survey’s findings that customers found the various patterns for opening hours confusing. The Officers present agreed to monitor visits under the new opening hours and to return to the committee in 12 months with the results.
· The Committee wished to minute their concerns of how the review has been conducted, whilst they appreciate the difficulties inherent in conducting such a large-scale staffing review, but equally they are aware that some staff are unhappy with the way the review has been communicated to them.
· Mrs Marks felt that it was important for the Service to communicate the changes with the Parish Councils.
A vote was taken on whether to agree the recommendation in the report:
3 votes for (Mrs Windsor, Mrs Marks and Mr Skellett)
1 vote against (Mr Sydney)
1 abstention due to a declared pecuniary interest (Mr Orrick)
Mrs Windsor agreed to the recommendation subject to the impact of the changes being monitored.
The Local Committee (Tandridge):
(i) AGREED the proposed changes to opening hours for Caterham Hill library, as set out in section 9 of the report and Annex One.