Report by Director of Communities, Economy and Transport
50.1 The Cabinet considered a report by the Director of Transport and Environment, together with the comments of the Libraries Scrutiny Review Board and representations submitted from the lead petitioner in relation to Hollington Library. The following people addressed the Cabinet on behalf of petitioners: Miss Boniface (Polegate Library), Ms Budden (Polegate Library), Mr Lloyd MP (Langney Library), Ms Owen (Ringmer Library) and Councillor Pritchett (Willingdon Library)
50.2 It was RESOLVED to:
(1) note the findings of the public consultation on the draft Libraries Strategic Commissioning Strategy, which took place between 21 September and 14 December 2017, and the resulting changes made to the Strategy which are described in the report (at paragraph 2.12);
(2) agree the new library services that, in response to the consultation, the revised Strategy would implement, including an enhanced, modern eLibrary with greater investment, a new children and young people’s offer to support literacy and numeracy, increased outreach work in our most disadvantaged communities, and new Community Library Membership and Teachers Library Membership;
(3) agree the revised Libraries Strategic Commissioning Strategy and its implementation, which will create a modern, sustainable library service that reflects the changing ways people access the service and which prioritises resources, including allocation of the Stock Fund, more closely towards specific groups and communities where we have identified highest need;
(4) agree that, as part of the overall Strategy, Langney, Mayfield, Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate, Ringmer and Willingdon libraries and the Mobile Library close on 5 May 2018, and support to Northiam Village Library also ceases from this date;
(5) agree to give delegated authority to the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport, in consultation with the Assistant Chief Executive, to consider any viable community proposals to take over the running of the seven libraries or the Mobile Library, and to enter into appropriate agreements on behalf of ESCC.
50.3 The revised Libraries Strategic Commissioning Strategy (LSCS) will enable the Council to create a modern, sustainable library service for East Sussex, which prioritises the needs of the county and is able to adapt to future needs, and which would enable the Council to meet its statutory duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service that can be accessed using reasonable means. The revised LSCS would secure £653k of savings, comprising the final part of a Libraries Transformation Programme which would deliver a total saving of £1.9m.
50.4 In addition to providing a core library offer that would retain a very high level of accessibility to all those who live, work and study in East Sussex, by re-prioritising and developing new, more targeted services the revised LSCS presents a key opportunity for us to support and empower those with the greatest needs to make potentially transformational changes to their life chances. The implementation of a needs-based library service would enable resources to be targeted to communities where we have identified the highest needs.
50.5 Having carefully considered all of the consultation feedback, we do not consider that new information has been presented which means that the evidence base for the draft LSCS was incorrect or had been wrongly interpreted. In light of this, and taking into account the Vision and Strategic Outcomes for the East Sussex Library and Information Service and the financial and wider context in which it needs to operate, the revised LSCS was agreed. This will result in a smaller network of library buildings, with 17 libraries in appropriate locations across the county according to need. 92% of members of the current 24 libraries would be unaffected. Over 86% of East Sussex residents would be within a 20 minute journey time to a library by public transport and over 99% within a 20 minute journey by car.