South Gloucestershire Council Consulting on Libraries, Community Hubs and Office Accommodation
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South Gloucestershire Council has begun a trio of crucial public consultations in order to hear the views of local residents, groups and businesses on proposals to change the way some services are delivered.
Significant savings are needed in the budgets for libraries and the amount the council spends on its buildings. The council will also look to introduce a Community Hub model, where appropriate, to provide multiple services from one place in key communities.
The measures are part of the updated Council Savings Plan (CSP), approved as part of the 2016/17 council budget in February, which set out savings of an additional £22million from annual spending by 2019/20.
The consultations began on 22 February and run until 13 May 2016, covering library services; office accommodation, focussing particularly on the use of the Kingswood Civic Centre and the council offices at Badminton Road in Yate; and Community Hubs, where residents can access a range of services and speak to staff face-to-face.
Council Leader, Matthew Riddle, encouraged people to take part: “The council has no choice but to reduce spending, but we do have a choice in how we do it. Our priority remains to protect front line services, particularly those delivering for the most vulnerable, wherever we can.
“We want to make sure our services are sustainable, which means getting the change right for the long-term. Now we have developed options, we want to hear views on how we can make sure our services can continue to deliver for the future.
“I want to encourage everyone to take part because your input will affect the decision making process, and the decisions we make in turn will affect the way we deliver services in the future.”
Full details on each of the consultations, including background information and options being proposed are available online at www.southglos.gov.uk/consultation.
Some of the key areas we are seeking feedback on are:
Libraries – The council needs to save £650,000 from this budget and consideration is being given to reducing some library opening hours, ceasing finding for Chipping Sodbury library and ending the Mobile Library service as ways to make this saving. However, no library service changes are planned before October 2017 and the council anticipates that through discussions with the community over the next year, new options will be negotiated to help avoid many of these service reductions.
Community Hubs – The council will develop a model of co-located services, including libraries, One Stop Shops (OSS) and potentially other public sector organisations in single, easy-to-access facilities, where possible. Priority areas to look at delivering services in this way will be Kingswood, Patchway and Yate and the council will also look to develop plans to pilot new technological ways of providing access to some services in Thornbury.
Accommodation – A range of options are presented for public feedback, which would allow the council to reduce what it spends on office accommodation, based on the high levels of public support for making efficiencies in this area. Under the proposals in the consultation, some office-based staff would relocate to the council’s Badminton Road office in Yate, although the council are committed to continuing to deliver front line services in Kingswood.
Public drop-in sessions are planned as part of each consultation process. As events are confirmed they will advertised locally and on the consultation website.
Details of those already arranged are below:
Library drop-in sessions:
• Thornbury library – Wednesday 9 March, 2pm-7pm
• Bradley Stoke library – Saturday 12 March, 10:30am-1pm
• Downend library – Monday 14 March, 2pm-7pm
• Filton library – Thursday 17th March, 2pm-7pm
• Chipping Sodbury library – Saturday 19th March, 9:30am-1pm
• Patchway library – Tuesday 22nd March, 2pm-7pm
• Kingswood library – Wednesday 23rd March, 2pm-7pm
• Yate library – Saturday 2nd April, 9:30am-1pm
• Hanham library – Tuesday 5th April, 2pm-7pm
• Emersons Green library – Thursday 7th April, 2pm-7pm
• Yate library drop in (including Chipping Sodbury and the mobile library) – Monday 11th April, 2pm-7pm
• Staple Hill library – Tuesday 12th April, 2pm-7pm
• Mobile library drop in – Tolzy Hall, Marshfield – Thursday 14th April, 10:30am-12:30pm
• Winterbourne library – Tuesday 19th April, 2pm-7pm
One Stop Shop drop-in sessions:
• Thornbury OSS – Wednesday 9 March, 2pm-5pm
• Yate OSS – Friday 18 March 9.30am-12.30pm
• Patchway OSS – Friday 15 April 9.30am-12.30pm
• Kingswood OSS – Monday 18 April, 4pm-7pm
Accommodation drop-in sessions:
• Badminton Road council offices, Yate – Tuesday 12 April, 4pm-7pm
• Kingswood OSS – Monday 18 April, 4pm-7pm.
No decisions have been made on any of these matters, and won’t be until the council has heard from residents and councillors have had a chance to consider what they have to say.
It is anticipated that by working with library user groups, town and parish councils and other community groups, alternative arrangements to those currently proposed may be possible. While the savings will need to be made, the current first phase of consultation will help the council identify potential partners who we can work with on a library-by-library basis, which could mean some of the currently proposed changes, to opening hours for example, might be avoided.
Following this first phase of consultation, in September 2016 the Communities Committee will determine the broad approach to take forward to make the necessary savings. There will then follow a second phase of consultation in the autumn. This will be centred on updated plans, based on public feedback and discussions with potential partners, which will describe sustainable plans to implement the required savings and services at individual libraries.
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