HANWELL, NORTHFIELDS, PERIVALE, PITSHANGER, WOOD END & WEST EALING
council is proposing to cut funding for seven out of 13 libraries in the
borough. It has put forward the idea of Community
Managed Libraries (CML). In the CML
model the community charity organisation is responsible for the financing,
operation and staffing of the library.
If no charity groups come forward with an appropriate proposal the
relevant libraries will close.
funding cut comes despite Ealing Council’s recognition of the importance of
local libraries for local school children on its own
encouragement of reading and its effect on literacy skills is well established
and the borough has maintained its approach of having a local library service
for all to use. Schools, for their part,
encourage pupils to use the local library service.”
boroughs are seeking different ways to implement savings rather than lose a
valuable resource used by so many in our communities, especially as libraries:
- are one of the few places people can go without having to spend money
- provide a social environment that brings communities together, enhancing understanding and helping combat isolation
- equip people for self-improvement
- provide accessible online facilities essential to those applying for benefits and jobs, searching for employment or even doing their homework.
Ealing Neighbours’ response to these proposals
Highton, Chair of West Ealing Neighbours says: “The library
in West Ealing is not only an essential resource, it also provides a community
hub right in the centre of our neighbourhood.
As a neighbourhood group we have considered the Council’s proposals and
the impact they will have on our local community. We fully accept the Council faces difficult
decisions as a result of central government cuts to its funding. Nevertheless,
the exact way in which the Council implements these cuts requires it to make
choices. We feel it is important to note that other London
councils have made different choices and have decided not to risk possible
library closures. Therefore, after detailed examination of the Council’s plan we
do not feel we can support the Council’s CML proposal and strongly oppose the
closure of local libraries. We would
encourage all residents in the borough to stand together against cuts to our library
services and to make their opinions known to our councillors.”
of the West Ealing Neighbours committee have attended and contributed to various
consultations on library services within the borough. At the public meeting on 29th
March 2019 – attended by Carole Stewart, Asst Director of Arts, Heritage and
Libraries and Cllr Jasbir Anand cabinet
member for Business and community services- many questions about the
sustainability of the proposed CML model were left unanswered, especially
regarding the financial burden that would be placed on any charity group taking
over a library. More details were promised
in the “Invitation for Expression of Interest” paperwork which was made
available to the public on 17th April 2019.
committee met again after the release of these documents and still had concerns
over the financial commitment required – any charity would be responsible for
the business running costs – utilities,
insurances, maintenance, equipment contracts, lease, rent and rates (albeit at
the reduced 25% charity rate). The full
financial picture was not made clear in the documents with many elements “to be
determined”. Exact costs for the West
Ealing site were still unknown but these could be in the region of the £98,000 figure
for ‘indicative costs’ stated in the Council’s library strategy document.
In addition to the financial considerations, further
independent research revealed serious challenges faced by libraries staffed
solely by volunteers. Studies showed
that other community models have fared poorly because of inadequate time and
training to bring volunteers up to speed.
In all community models, sourcing and keeping the numbers of volunteers
required is a constant challenge.
volume of volunteers required to ‘replace’ the equivalent of staff jobs is much
greater, as are the numbers requiring ongoing training, criminal record (DBS)
checks etc. Successful community libraries
tended to be those which had full time library staff working alongside
volunteers, not the model suggested by Ealing Council which has one council
staff librarian visiting a community library once every 2 to 3 weeks. The committee doubted the sustainability of
the model and was concerned about the impact on the local community if it lost
this valuable resource.
of the committee attended the public meeting on Wednesday 8th May
2019 at Ealing Town Hall jointly organised by Ealing UNISON in collaboration
with the Save Ealing Libraries Campaign.
As well as considering the potential job losses these proposals would
bring, the meeting heard from individuals regarding the benefits a local
library offers its community. Further
information about challenges facing community libraries around the country was
also given, including:
- 85% drop in visits at East Barnet Library since becoming a volunteer ‘partnership’ library *
- CML in Essex only opens for 6 hours per week **
- volunteer libraries based in poorer parts of Sheffield are showed a big dip in usage across all loans ***
- catastrophic decrease in book loans in Doncaster (one library which used to have over 17,000 book loans per year when run by staff was down to just over 1,200 in 2018 when run by volunteers) ****
- In Enfield over a 5 year period the number of full-time staff has fallen from 17.7% from 19,688 in 2012-2013 to 16,194 in 2016-17, while the number of volunteers has increased 42.6% from 33,685 in 2012-13 to 48, 025 in 2016-17.*****
At the public meeting there was a majority
vote to oppose the Council’s proposal.
There was also a sense that a campaign to save all libraries would have
more impact than to champion them individually.
You can help save the libraries but urgent action
Spread the word – a lot of people don’t realise this is happening – talk to
your contacts and social networks and let them know.
2. Complete the consultation before May 17th –
either online or pick up a copy from the library.
3. Sign the online petition.
4. Write to your councillors – email or letter –
and keep chasing them for a reply.
Keep up to date with the campaign and be active – e.g. attend the march
organised for 25th May at 11am, starting at Greenford.
more information https://ealingunison.org.uk and click on the Libraries link.
Visit WEN’s blog http://www.westealingneighbours.org.uk/
where we will publish regular updates on this.
TIME IS SHORT!
Councillors – the people WE vote for – will meet for the public vote on the
proposal on Tuesday 16th July.
Decisions tend to be made long before the public vote so our chance to
let them know what we think is NOW!
still possible to make a difference and secure the future of our libraries, not
just for today but for generations to come.
* data from FOIs submitted by “Save Barnet
info from “Save Essex Libraries”
FOI request, figures from Sheffield City Council for period 2014-2016
**** FOI figures January 2019
****** Latest CIPFA figures