Saturday, March 04, 2017

Continuous consultation as libraries handed to voluntary sector

Gateshead Council has continuously been reviewing libraries in the borough for the past few years. At cabinet last month, the latest review recommended the transfer of 3 libraries - Whickham, Rowlands Gill and Felling - to the voluntary sector. We know that in 2020, Gateshead Council will no longer receive any revenue support grant from the government. We know that the demands for adult social care are increasing rapidly and Gateshead is statutorily required to provide it. In other words, the amount of money available for libraries (and most other services) will be dramatically reduced. I therefore argued at cabinet that the next consultation must not be about which libraries are transferred in 2018. Instead, there should be a vision for the whole of the library service in the harsh world of zero revenue support and that the whole service should be reformed to fit in with the vision. My views are explained in the video of my comments at Cabinet.

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