Cabinet, on 7 March, will consider whether recommendations that will change the way library services, children’s centres, nurseries and youth centres are provided, will be implemented.
Following a detailed engagement process with the community the Council has finalised how it will be supporting community services for the city’s most vulnerable residents at the same time as managing massive government spending cuts.
The plan will save the local authority £2.4m in 2017/18 and £3.5m in 2018/19. This will include a reduction of around 85 full time equivalent posts.
However, the Council wanted to look at new ways of working to avoid closing libraries. The Council has always been committed to minimising the impact on service users and want to continue to further explore options for community-led libraries in some locations.
No libraries will close through these proposals. Earlsdon, Finham and Cheylesmore and libraries will start a transition to become community-led libraries, discussions will continue to enable the transition of Caludon library and the decision about Coundon library will be deferred to develop future options.
The proposals covering libraries, children’s centres, nurseries and youth services across the city, would mean that children’s centres become family hubs, providing targeted services to children and young people up to the age of 19 in key areas of Coventry.
The Council’s contribution to the delivery of universal youth services across the city would end, with a targeted and specialist youth offer focused on the hardest to reach and most vulnerable young people.
The Council has received a lot of interest in running some youth services from both the voluntary and community sector. This will now be explored with the help of a Transition Fund of £525,000 set up to facilitate the process.
Cllr Kevin Maton, Cabinet Member for Education and skills, said that savings have been identified but more time was needed to work with local people to find ways of keeping libraries open.
“We know from the number of petitions we have received and talking to residents that these services matter to people. No libraries will close through these proposals. For libraries that could have closed, we are working with groups to enable a transition for these libraries to become community-led. We are making savings but still keeping a comprehensive library offer across Coventry.
“We have already outlined other savings that the Council has to make as part of its final budget announcement. There are very few services that are not affected.”
Since 2010 the Council has lost £95million a year in government grant funding, with cuts rising to £119million a year by 2020 – more than half the Council’s overall budget of 2010.
Cllr Kevin Maton, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills added: “Coventry is not alone in having to struggle with far less government funding. We have had no choice about developing proposals that will affect the services we know Coventry people value.
“Our priority is to support, as far as possible, our most vulnerable residents.
“We want to avoid making crude cuts to services, as other councils have been forced to do, but we can only do this by working with other organisations and local communities to develop a long term strategy for our services.”
Eight children’s centres in Bell Green, Foleshill, Tile Hill, Radford, Moat House, Middle Ride, Gosford Park and Hillfields are proposed to become family hubs, providing a range of services for 0 to 19 year olds (including nursery provision where it can be delivered by schools or independent nursery providers instead of the Council).
Contracts will end in three children’s centres at Tommies, Flutterbies and Valley House by the end of May. The services provided by these centres will transfer to the remaining children's centres in the interim before full implementation.
Five of the former children’s centres will see continued or increased nursery provision for two to four year olds, where schools or independent nursery providers are proposing to deliver the service instead of the Council.
Where this is not possible, any existing Council provided nursery provision will cease.
The Council continues to remain committed to increasing the provision of nurseries for those in most need.
Cllr Ed Ruane, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “We are having to focus our efforts on the most vulnerable. But I also appreciate concerns of local people. The reality is that as a result of government actions we simply cannot provide children’s centres to everyone in the way we used to.”
”This will mean working much more closely with partners like schools and the NHS to provide integrated support in one place.”