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DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee are asked to consider whether they have an interest in any matters on the agenda and, if so, to formally declare that interest.
Councillor S Wright declared a personal interest in any item relating to staffing issues in schools as his wife is employed in a Bury School.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
A period of 30 minutes has been set aside for members of the public to ask questions on matters set out on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.
· Nicole Haydock, asked when the library users would be notified of what would happen?
It was explained that library users had been consulted in relation to the service provision and the proposals that had been put forward had come from the outcome of the consultations. The legal process would have to be signed off in relation to the library offer before the future of the library buildings could be considered.
· Gary Hardman referred to the consultation that had taken place and stated that those library users that had taken part had thought that the options would not affect the smaller community libraries and were only looking at the larger library provision across the borough.
· Councillor Walker asked whether the Overview and Scrutiny Committee would consider looking at the use and attendance of the sculpture centre since it had been opened in what used to be part of Bury Central Library.
· A representative from Friends of Tottington Library explained that at the last Cabinet meeting the group had been told that they could take over the running of Tottington Library and asked whether the Council would support them with this.
Councillor Briggs explained that the Council would support a group wanting to take over a library building but work would have to be done to provide a business case that was viable and at no cost to the Council.
· Mr Hardman referred to the library facilities being retained at central locations and stated that he thought that the Council was supporting neighbourhood working. Mr Hardman stated that a lot of neighbourhood services were provided in the libraries and these would be lost.
Councillor Briggs explained that the Council was committed to neighbourhood working but also needed to look at what was financially achievable. The Council do not have the finances to keep the smaller libraries open as it isn’t cost effective.
· RaufSaad, a pupil from Whitefield explained that he was due to start at Philips High School in September and was concerned that as a member and user of Whitefield Library he would not be able to go to the library to do his homework. Rauf explained that he and his sister use Whitefield Library regularly as it is close to home and easily accessible. They feel privileged to be able to go there. If this facility were to close it would be taking away the privilege from a lot of other users aswell.
Klare Rufo, Assistant Director – Learning and Culture explained that the Council would work to ensure that library facilities available in high schools were fit for purpose and places that students want to go.
Klare also explained that the smaller libraries provide services to only 6% of the registered library users. The 4 library option allows over 90% (98% actually) can access a library within 30 mins.
· Ms Harvey stated that she was registered at Prestwich Library but used other libraries. If this was the case for a number of residents it may ... view the full minutes text for item OSC.65
Following the receipt of a Notice of Call-in within the required deadline, from Councillor Caserta calling in the decision of the Cabinet set out in Minute CA.04 of the meeting held on 28 June 2017, a meeting of the Committee has been convened in order to consider the matter in accordance with the reasons set out on the Notice of Call-In.
A copy of the original paperwork considered by Cabinet, along with the decision Minute and Call –in notice are attached.
The Scrutiny Committee considered a called-in decision of the Cabinet meeting held on 28 June 2017 in accordance with the Council Constitution.
The Cabinet had made the following decision:
That approval be given to Option 2, as presented in the report submitted, to retain Bury, Ramsbottom, Prestwich and Radcliffe Libraries and a smaller Service Wide Team.
A Call – In Notice had been submitted by Councillor Caserta, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, setting out the reasons for the Call In of the decision. The reasons are set out below:
Insufficient consideration given to:
· The discrimination against young people many from disadvantaged backgrounds who rely on the libraries as a place to do their homework after school. This especially applies to Tottington Library.
· It will discriminate against people with mobility problems who are unable to travel long distances.
· Insufficient notice of closure for applicant community groups to take-over operation of the buildings.
Councillor Caserta invited Councillor Briggs, Cabinet Member – Children and Families to respond to the reasons highlighted:
In response to the first reason Councillor Briggs explained that a 2011 survey by the National Literacy Trust found that children who use a library are twice as likely to be above average readers and organisations such as the Reading Agency and the Society of Chief Librarians confirm this is still the case. However use of libraries for school homework has markedly declined in the last 5-10 years; the formal homework clubs that many libraries established in the 90’s have largely disappeared. There is evidence that children who continue to use libraries for homework would have been coming to the library in any case. The pattern seen in Bury’s libraries is typical of that experienced by most library authorities.
Our libraries continue to provide children and older students with good resources including: study space; reference books; online reference materials; free access to the internet; free and/or low cost print-outs plus staff assistance. However all Bury’s libraries, including Tottington, report a similar pattern of use:
· Formal homework clubs withdrawn due to lack of use and dedicated staff
· Typically no more than 3 or 4 children coming in each day in larger libraries, less or none in smaller libraries to do homework
· The internet is the primary source of information
· Books are seldom used other than for mainly history related projects e.g. The Romans
Some 10 plus years ago a partnership with Tottington High School established a Homework Centre at Tottington Library; this was well used for a couple of years but was closed 6 years ago due to lack of use. Similarly an attempt at creating a ‘teen room’ was short lived.
In response to the second reason stated for the Call in Councillor Briggs explained that the Mott McDonald report was discussed at some length in the report to cabinet of January 2017 and the full report included as an appendix. The report showed that for option 7 (which equates to option 2 of the Library Review i.e. Bury, Prestwich, ... view the full minutes text for item OSC.66