Bromley Council are issuing another public “consultation” on public libraries in the borough. Basically because we didn’t really agree with their idea to volunteers running libraries or the privatisation of the rest of the service… they’re going to consult us again until we see the light of their way…
The online consultation document states
“Following the conclusion of a soft market testing exercise, the council is considering running a procurement exercise to identify an external provider to run the library service under the supervision of the council. This would be called a commissioned library service.”
A soft marketing exercise??…. so not any substantial evidence-based research on whether privatisation of a library service has any benefits? Let’s ignore well run public libraries by UK local authorities since the implementation of the Public Libraries Act of 1964 (and before then) then.
It would be hard to see how much better library services could be run – having produced the most competitive contracts to book and journal suppliers over the past 30 years. And who have negotiated and managed those contracts? – professional librarians…
There is a question to senior management team in Bromley Libraries though… why do they remain towing the council line while many of their staff strike for the services they manage? If the council have their way – they won’t be managing much in the future – if they remain managing at all??
Even though the electorate already told the council they didn’t think much of their library privatisation they’re asking again… so make your views known by 16th September 2015 on Bromley Council’s Library “Consultation”
Looking through the “consultation” there are nudges to favour the external provider option all the way through to help the external provider cause (surprise surprise…). If you go for the retain the services within the Council version you will still get the same services currently supplied however continuation with the current service
“will mean that it will probably need to reduce the range of services and activities that are provided, for example by reducing library opening hours.”
whereas if you opt for the Council’s “commissioned library service” provided by an external provider the full current range is magically offered by “suitably qualified staff”
So they are going to pay someone to manage the service (an extra cost) keep the same service that is going now with probably the same number of staff… Clever… Sceptics might think that the jobs covering those services may re-evaluated by the incoming external provider – regraded at a lower pay scale and offered to those staff presently employed by Bromley Council – and if the regrading isn’t accepted – offered to people who will work for less….
Question 6 starts with
“If I tell you….”
although it mentions no personal input from anyone at Bromley Council on this “Consultation”…. Who is this “I”???
It goes on to tell us that
“the Council must save more than £60 million across all Council services by 2017/18….”
and if you didn’t know that already – you do now and how does that change your thinking around the idea of a commissioned library service?…. without actually saying what a commissioned library service will save the council in the this vast saving fest.
Oh and by the way can you think of any further ways the council could make significant savings within the current library service they’d be grateful. You might want to remind them they underspent by around £11m of council funds in 2014-15 and decided to add that to the £300m they already hold in properties around the country…
As to the six libraries cut loose to be run locally by local community volunteers / groups / organisations… Well it’s a bit vague. The option just asks if you if you feel that the libraries not taken over by groups should be managed by an external provider.
Does that mean if you are strongly opposed to an external provider and that a library doesn’t get any community take up that Bromley Council (if – by some miracle – the external provider option is rejected) will take them back into the fold?
You have 750 free text words to tell the council your thoughts on their proposal and also 750 words on how a commissioned library service will affect you or your organisation. So make them count!!!
“The results from the public consultation will be considered along with the outcome of the soft market testing exercise and the response to the community right to challenge notice in a report to the council’s Executive Committee in the autumn 2015. The council will use the information gathered to make an informed decision about whether or not to start a procurement process to find an external provider to deliver the library service from April 2017.”
Mmmmm – we wonder what that informed decision will be……