THE VALE Council has rubber-stamped parts of the controversial Library Strategy that aims to make savings of more than £500,000 per year.
Cabinet approved all of the recommendations put before them during a meeting on Monday, August 11, but some of the matters will be subject to further consultation before a final decision is made.
As part of the proposals, which aim to make a total savings of more than £1million over the next two years, Dinas Powys, Sully, St Athan, Wenvoe and Rhoose libraries would all become ‘community managed’ and run by volunteers.
During the cabinet meeting Councillor Neil Moore, the Leader of the Vale Council, said that there had been a “communication issue” with informing library staff about the proposals.
He added about the need the need to make savings in the library service: “This has not been an easy decision to take.”
The report added that the Library Strategy had been revised in response to representations made, and that a Staff Reference Group, the purpose of which will be to update and engage trade unions on progress with implementation of the Strategy, would now be created.
The matters recommended for approval by cabinet members included an immediate increase in library service charges, reducing the book fund by £25,000 from £220,000 to £195,000 with effect from April 2015, further developing and promoting e-books and other digital services, upgrading and extending the library WiFi service during 2014/15, and further work on the development of other income generation and grant funding opportunities.
Cabinet had already agreed to invest £88,000 in 2015/16 to address damp in Penarth Library, while a proposed 'pop up’ library service in Barry developed in partnership with Barry Town Council had already been launched in June 2014 this year.
Cabinet members also agreed the creation of ‘Friends Groups’ for Barry, Penarth, Cowbridge and Llantwit libraries in a bid to “increase opportunities for the library service to be further embraced by the community but also to raise funding and apply for external grants”.
Penarth councillor Lis Burnett, who represents the St Augustine’s ward, welcomed the formation of ‘Friends Groups’.
“Friends groups are able to access sources of funding which the council cannot do,” she said.
The library service is also set to “work closely with other departments responsible for lifelong learning, arts and culture and explore opportunities to increase digital inclusion and education further”.
Subject to consultation with staff and the relevant trade unions, cabinet also approved the overnight security services provided at Barry Library be replaced with CCTV during 2014/15 and cleaning costs be reduced by 20 per cent across all libraries in the Vale during 2014/15.
One of the most controversial aspects of the Library Strategy report has been the establishment of volunteer-run ‘community libraries’ in Dinas Powys, Sully, St Athan, Wenvoe and now Rhoose.
Cabinet has now agreed that further consultations will be held in those areas before a decision is made, and that consultations will also be held into a proposed reduction in library opening hours.
The report added: “Rhoose Library was not originally selected for the community library delivery model due primarily to its distance from the libraries at Barry and Llantwit Major However, on reflection and in view of the increased pressure to identify further savings across the Council to respond to the scenarios in the 2015/16 Budget Strategy, it is now considered appropriate to apply the community managed library model to Rhoose Library.”