Here are the reader questions and the WCC Library answers sent to whatsinKenilworth on (19 May at 4.36pm).
1, The date of the workshop is 2 June, which is 7 days before the library consultation closes. Why has this workshop been planned before the consultation has ended?
Holding the conference on 2 June, whilst consultation is ongoing, was a decision based on several factors. It gives community groups the opportunity to gain additional knowledge, and some have requested examples of best practice around the country, to inform their business cases whilst consultation is ongoing. The availability of the speakers, carefully chosen for the cross-section of examples that they can provide, also directed when the conference could be held.
It is not without significance that 2 June falls within half term. We wanted to stage the conference at a central venue to enable people from the north and the south of the county to attend. Rugby College met those criteria and naturally was available during half term.
This date also has another practical benefit in that it also gives the opportunity for educational workers, who are not available in term-time, to be present. We see this group as likely to become involved in any community model for a library and felt it important that they have the chance to attend.
2, Why are WCC Libraries charging £33 per head when this should be free to community groups. Comments have been made that WCC have already offered £100,00 as help.
Regarding the charge of £33 per head, it needs to be clear that Warwickshire County Council is being charged that by the college to cover the costs of overheads. In fact we have already renegotiated the rate with the college and will be informing the groups that the new charge will be reduced to £24. The council is not making any money out of this. The opposite is the case; we are willing to subsidise community groups and pay for one ticket so that that person can cascade information. That is the most cost-effective way for each community group to have access to the information.
The £100,000 funds that you mention is capital money and, as such, cannot be used for this purpose.
3, IF closing 16 libraries is abandoned, then anyone have attended and paid a fee of £33 should get the monies refunded, shouldn’t they?
4, Where is the public webpage for the offer of this Workshop. At time of writing, We can only assume it has been offered privately – which is against openness and transparency.
With regards to your third and fourth questions, the subject of the conference is very focussed and was therefore targeted at community groups who have contacted the county council and expressed an interest in running a community library. It is not intended to be available for the general public.
It is a conference that residents will benefit from; whilst we are offering some assistance to help more community groups to have a representative present, it is their decision whether or not to attend. We do not therefore feel that any refunds would be appropriate as the charge relates exclusively to staging the workshop at cost.