Thursday 7 November 2013

Broomhill Library - the latest update from the Chair of Broomhill Forum

The Chairperson writes:

Further to my letter of October, I would like to remind you that there will be a meeting on Saturday 9 November at 10.30am at the Broomhill Beacon Methodist Church, Fulwood Road, Broomhill, about the Council’s proposals for the library service, and what this could mean for the Broomhill Library.  The purpose of the meeting on 9th November will be for people to hear further from Cllr Iqbal and the local councillors, to gather views on what could/should be done, and to discuss what practical steps are possible and feasible to ensure the continuance of all or some library service. 

Some of the main questions to be considered include:
1.      Is it a financially feasible proposition to continue the library as it is?
2.      If not, what alternatives are possible?
3.      What venues are available?
4.      What staffing would be required?
5.      Where would the funding come from to support a new venture?
6.      Who is willing to form themselves into a group to take the matter forward?

The meeting will be attended by local councillors and by Councillor Mazher Iqbal, the Council Cabinet member with responsibility for the Sheffield Library Service, who has kindly agreed to attend and present information and answer questions.  The Broomhill Forum is organising this meeting as it is clearly a matter of great concern to local residents, including those in neighbouring areas, such as Crookes, Crosspool, Ranmoor and Fulwood, and the meeting is open to anyone from those areas, and elsewhere, who wishes to attend.  However, it should be made plain from the outset that the Forum is not in a position to take on the running of a library: it does not fall within its remit, which is that of a discussion (and advice) forum for local businesses, major organisations and local residents to discuss matters of common concern.  However, the Forum is happy to facilitate the community’s discussion of the issues, and bring together any local businesses, residents and other individuals who may wish to form themselves into a suitable grouping in order to take on the task of organising a community library.

In essence, the Council’s report on the future of Sheffield Libraries indicated that there will only be two libraries on the west of the city, namely Hillsborough and Ecclesall, and there will be no mobile library service.  The Home Library Service will remain for those who are housebound. The Council has stated its intention to support financially 5 co-delivered community libraries, for two years, and has listed 16 possible libraries for this support in rank order of preference, relating to demographic needs.  Broomhill is now ranked 6th in this list.  Both the co-funded and the prospective independent libraries are asked to submit business plans to the Council by January 10 2014 outlining how they propose to manage the library in their area.  If any of the 5 libraries identified as possible co-delivered libraries do not choose to go down this route then libraries below the cut-off line may move up into the co-funded category.

At the councillors’ meeting with local residents about the possibilities for the Broomhill Library which was held on 16 October, various questions on possible finance were put to the councillors who undertook to investigate both facts and possibilities. Answers to some of the questions are listed below but fuller detail may be available at the meeting on the 9th November.

1.      What are the costs of running the Broomhill Library premises at the moment?
Answer: These amount to c £24,250.00 plus insurance costs of circa £1k. The staffing costs are not included in these figures.
2.      Could the city provide some funds to move the library to a different location?
Answer: This may be possible but it would be a time limited offer.
3.      What would be the capital costs of providing a fit-for-purpose library where it is currently located in Taptonville Road (i.e. bringing it up to accessibility standards, and fire regulations) ?
Answer: £756,000.00 (costings by Kier)
4.      Is there the possibility of the £300k which was previously allocated to the library being available for use if Broomhill Library were to continue?
Answer: Cllrs are still seeking clarity on this matter.
5.      Will there be section 106 monies from the Taptonville development which can be devoted to the library?
Answer: Cllrs going to ask for clarity on this but the money would usually be retained for open space, or transport, or for infrastructure projects.
6.      Could the council sell the current Broomhill Library and the money be used for a new facility?
AnswerCllrs are currently enquiring from colleagues about the possibility of this, because the funds would usually have to go into a capital project and not revenue costs.

7.      Broomhill is not as yet on the list of five areas eligible for support for a co-funded library so current discussions are interesting but academic. If Broomhill were to move onto that list of 5 when would we know?

Answer: Broomhill could move up from the independent category to the co-funded category but this would not be known until after 20 December and the business plans have been put forward by the five front runners. The deadline for a final business plan is 10 January but Cllr Iqbal is prepared to be flexible on this.

8.      Would there be funding available for the set up costs, and the running and security of the library stock.

Answer: There would be funding for the set up costs, but not for any further costs. There would not be any funding for buying book stocks other than through applying to the Broomhill Ward funding pot.

9.      What form of governance for the co-funded libraries would the Council require? A limited company? Formation of a charitable trust with a board of trustees? 

Answer: The information pack will spell out the information/expectations on people who wish to run a library, e.g. formation of organisation such as ‘Friends of Broomhill Library. Such a body would not pay a market rental for the existing property but that charged to a third sector organisation. Training and support needs would be provided to such a group to help them with the work.
It is expected that those libraries which are independent would be best served by operating in a consortium for buying book stock and providing services.
I would urge you to attend the meeting to make your views known.  Broomhill has one of the highest usage rates of all the libraries in the city. There are also at least two petitions being circulated in Broomhill for submission to the Council. Please do sign one of these if you feel strongly about the issue.