Monday 11 July 2011

WCC Special Libraries Overview Scrutiny Committee - Part 2: 34 Parallel Projects

It seems in the last five months of possible library closures, there have been many questions and very few answers. An OSC is about posing questions and having as many answers before Thursday 14 July 2011 at Cabinet - that's not a lot of time.

I was expecting some real cutting edge analysis of the facts - what I get was a feeling that no matter what was said, this financial gun was going to go off. It was the first time I'd heard that phrase, it was backed up with another no financial latitude.

One comment made early on, was how the consultation was still in progress, but staff redundancies had been called for - how is this possible? Another was, how unfair it was to require Community Groups to come up with a robust business case by 19 August. And then what happens after that? Would there be more time? Late in the meeting, a motion was granted where some named libraries would have four weeks extra (more to come on that).

By now, we know how the library staff were briefed just before the public. This has allowed the preferential form to be available soon with a Do you or don't you want voluntary redundancy? One councillor made a few points how staff could be given false hope that they do have a job when it may seem they don't.

Moving onto the 16 business cases, it seemed very little details were available. Can we have an update on all 16 please? No. Why not? Because some are just a letter of interest while others are a fully workable business plan. Can we see those then? No. How about the named six business cases (Baddesley Ensor, Binley Woods, Bulkington, Harbury, Kingsbury and Studley) - can we see those? No - it would break confidentiality. Is there anything else? The Community has to do the work, we are happy to give the advice. It was a 3 month period, some Communities struggled.

Courtesy of WCC Item 12
Then onto the statistics. The Community Analysis data sheets do not make any sense. The bus timetables are incorrect, the area facts are incorrect. There is no mention of the cumulative effect on a community if it loses a library. 

In Gloucestershire, there is a judicial review - will that affect Warwickshire?  The legal implications in Glos are 'the process used to make their decision' - this may or may not impact on us (Warwickshire).

There were some questions on why Warwick Library is being merged with Warks Direct and moved to Shire Hall. Why now? Answers ranged from it's easy to control, it's close and we have the structure (in place).

Then came some Qs on why School libraries have not been used to merge existing libraries. No solid answers.

Back to statistics again with: Why are some maps measured in kilometres (5km) and some in miles (2miles)? This will affect how judgements are made especially in rural areas which may lead to rural isolation. There needs to me more accuracy in this data. IF flawed, then rethink.

Note on this post: There were many more points I have not listed, probably as they are incomplete or I do not want to mislead anyone. Overall, there was a comment made how ALL THIS is like running 34 PARALLEL PROJECTS.

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