Future of Cornwall’s Libraries
Future of Cornwall’s Libraries is looking good despite financial challenges posed by funding cuts from Government.
letter-re-st-just-library-to-cornishman See press release response at the end of this post.
Councillors welcome progress in securing the future of Cornwall’s libraries
Members at this week’s meeting of the Council’s Cabinet have welcomed the progress which is being made to protect library services across Cornwall by devolving libraries and one stop shops to local councils and community organisations.
Outlining the works which are taking place to transfer individual libraries and one stop shop sites, Geoff Brown, the Cabinet Member for Communities, said the Council’s actions meant that none of Cornwall’s 31 libraries had closed.
“We have been forced to change the way libraries and one stop services are provided in Cornwall because of the huge cuts in our funding from the Government” he said. “Our aim throughout this process has been to work with partners and local communities to protect these much loved services by delivering them in a different way.
“I am, therefore, delighted to confirm that to date we are on target to achieve the £2m savings we need to without closing any of our current 31 libraries and, in fact, we have recently opened a new micro library at St Columb Minor through the ‘pub is hub’ scheme. This means we are actually increasing library provision in Cornwall, not reducing it.”
Members at this week’s meeting were told that staff from Falmouth Library and Information Service had now formally transferred to the Town Council, with the move to transfer the town’s former one stop shop to Callington Town Council in its final stages. This will see the Town Council hosting the new Information Service and, it is hoped, will result in an increase in opening hours. Work is also continuing on the relocation of Bodmin Library to Chy Trevail, which is due to take place in Spring 2017.
The devolution of Penryn Library to the Town Council is also in the final stages of handover, with detailed discussions taking place in Camborne, Liskeard, Newquay, St Austell, St Ives, Torpoint and Truro.
Alternative options are also being considered for the sites for which there has been no interest in taking on a devolved library service, which locally includes Penzance.
“We are grateful to our town and parish council partners for working with us, particularly those working in our priority sites, as we work through the more detailed elements of the transfers” said Geoff Brown.
“This is a time of great change for everyone and I would also like to thank our library and one stop shop staff for their hard work and professionalism; and the devolution project team for their combined efforts and work to progress this very complicated devolution programme.”
Members at this week’s meeting also supported the proposed principles of the partnership arrangement for Truro Library with Truro City Council and gave delegated authority for carrying out negotiations with the City Council and the Trustees of the Technical School to the Corporate Director for Neighbourhoods and Communities Portfolio Holder,
A further report on the programme will be brought back to the Communities Policy Advisory Committee before the end of March 2017.
PRESS RELEASE RE ST JUST LIBRARY
The Cornwall Council Business Plan and Budget for 2015/19 set out a budget saving of £1.8 million for the Library and One Stop Shop service to be made from staffing and property savings between 2015/17.
Council Members agreed, following public consultation, that in order to achieve the savings, Officers from Cornwall Council would continue discussions with local organisations throughout Cornwall who had expressed an interest in taking on the running of their libraries and one stop shops.
The Council is committed to not closing any libraries and much progress has been made engaging with local organisations that recognise the value of library services within the community, and have expressed an interest in taking on the running of these services. We have had some very positive meetings and some excellent ideas for improving our current library service which is very encouraging.
Whilst no final decision has been made, we are continuing discussions with the Friends of St Just Library who are considering how they can best meet the needs of their local community.
The Friends of St Just Library said: “The Friends of St Just Library are continuing to work with Cornwall Council with a view to taking over the running of the library in 2017. While it is proving to be quite a complex process, we are encouraged by the support we are receiving from the community, including a substantial financial pledge from an anonymous donor. We also have a new website: www.friendsofstjustlibrary.org where you will find lots of information about the library and the latest developments. We know there is still a lot of work to do, but, with continued support, we are hopeful that St Just will keep its library in the current building, run by the community for the community.”
Sue James, Cornwall Councillor for St Just-in-Penwith said: “If enthusiasm is an indicator for success then the Friends of St Just Library are not only a credit to our community but also they should succeed in their bid to deliver what local people want to see locally. These are challenging times and I want to reassure local people that there are no discussions about the closure of St Just Library; and efforts of Cornwall Council Officers and the Friends group are towards devolution of the service to the community.”