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Councillors to discuss new proposals for future of Coventry libraries and community facilities

Published Friday, 13 November 2015

An initiative to find new ways to deliver council services across Coventry is set to be discussed by councillors.

The proposals could see two of the city’s 17 libraries moving to different, cheaper premises and all libraries across the city remaining open while the Council works with schools community groups and other organisations to develop new ways of delivering services in key areas of the city.

A report into the future of the city’s libraries, community centres, public toilets and play centres makes a number of recommendations aimed at delivering £1.2million worth of savings a year from April 2016. A further £3.8million a year will be saved from 2017/18 through the new approach to delivering council services in neighbourhoods.

The initiative replaces the Council’s City Centre First Strategy which recommended focusing services in a few key areas outside the city centre.

Cllr David Kershaw, Cabinet Member for Education and Libraries said: “We are aiming to keep open our libraries – we understand Coventry residents’ passion for their libraries and have listened to their concerns.

“That is why I guaranteed they would all stay open until next year so we could look very carefully at the implications of some of our proposals.

“We are doing this, of course, against a backdrop of spending cuts that will see our government grant cut by half by 2017.

“We have no choice about reducing services and making tough decisions against the stark reality of having to deliver services with at least £250 per head less to spend on every man, woman and child in Coventry than we had in 2010.

“But these new proposals will not mean the closure of libraries. What they do mean is that we could see new ways of delivering learning and library, children’s and family services across all communities

“We now need some time to carry out detailed work with communities, community groups and partner organisations, including schools. We are already working with some of these groups and want to do more over the next few months.

“There is a real appetite across the city from people who want to get involved and work with us and I think we recognise the Council does not always know best when it comes to making decisions about what is right for communities.

“We have excellent and committed head teachers, church leaders, community and resident group chairs as well as people who simply care about the place they live in and want to do more.”

The report, which will be discussed by the Council’s Cabinet later this month outlines a series of savings proposals.

These include:

Not renewing the leases on the current buildings at Arena and Willenhall libraries and finding alternative premises for library services in both neighbourhoods.

Closing all libraries outside the city centre on Sundays when they are least used. Currently only Bell Green, Earlsdon, Foleshill, the Arena, Stoke and Tile Hill open on Sundays.

Closing all libraries outside the city centre on Wednesdays – currently just four libraries outside the city centre open on Wednesdays (Arena, Foleshill, Earlsdon and Caludon Castle).

Central Library will close one hour earlier on weekdays – at 7pm

Ending the mobile library service. Members of the public not able to visit a static library will be able to access the at home service provided in partnership with Age UK.

Reducing the £658,000 annual budget for buying books, DVDs and publications by £100,000

Closing two play centres – Eagle Street and Edgwick Park

Closing six public conveniences outside the city centre

Withdrawing an unspent youth service commissioning budget.

Transfer community centres run by the Council to community organisations – just six across the city are still run by the Council

Some posts will be lost but no compulsory redundancies are likely

Cllr Kershaw said: “We recognise that all these changes will have an impact on our libraries and other services across the city.

“But we have considered very carefully the implications of every individual proposal and taken into account the views people have expressed to us about our services over the past few months.”

If the Council’s cabinet approve the report consultation on the proposals will run from 7 December to I February. Detailed proposals for further savings of £3.8million a year from 2017/18 will be finalised next summer.

 

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