Margaret Cooney : Cabinet Meeting : 22nd July 2009
QUESTION TO CABINET & ANSWER : MARGARET COONEY : 22 JULY 2009
Question : Margaret Cooney
Almost all the feedback from the council's consultation related to appreciation of the excellent library assistants at Old Town. Now there is a proposal to rob the library of one of them. There is no proposal to improve opening hours or make the library more attractive to encourage usage. In line with the Coates and ERS Reports, will cabinet confirm it will first sort out all that is wrong with Swindon's library service and, until then, not impose cuts in staff on the front line?
The Deputy Leader Responded :
Thank you for your question. Before suggesting there is a problem with the Borough's library service, I would like you to note the large scale investment in the library service carried out by this administration. Swindon Borough Council has spent over £15m on new library buildings, including the Central Library, North Swindon, Highworth and the joint history centre with Wiltshire, two of which have won awards. The Borough has also increased the libraries budget by over £300,000 this year. Even with the changes proposed in the report tonight, Swindon will still have a higher number of libraries relative to its population than our similar, comparator authorities.
The Cabinet report, supported by the ERS report, clearly demonstrates having two staff in smaller libraries does not offer value for money to the residents of Swindon.
The Cabinet report specifically mentions improving Old Town library provision by co-locating within the Arts Centre, which is currently being reviewed.
The experienced members of staff at Old Town Library will be retained within the library service.
I am also pleased that the report, if adopted, will initiate a partnership with DASH and Farleigh College and so provide more social benefits to the whole community.
The Cabinet report's recommendations will stand and be considered by Members at the relevant time.