Last week was the regular meeting of Bury Council’s ‘Cabinet’. This meeting brings together the ruling Labour Group’s Cabinet Members, and the thetwo opposition group leaders are now back on the Cabinet, after being thrown off two years ago…. Lib Dem Leader Cllr Tim Pickstone reports:
Review of Libraries
The Council is beginning a major review of Library Services across the Borough. The background to this is that continuing need for Council’s to save money over the coming years.
As a starting point the Council’s leadership is saying that it is “fully committed to retaining a high quality Library Service” but anticipates that there will need to be changes, including the possibility of a reduction in the number of libraries.
There is also a lot in the report about ‘new’ digital technologies digital technologies that could be used to develop and improve the Library Service. The Council also recognises the importance of libraries as community spaces and wishes to explore ways of working together with local communities to strengthen the role their local library plays in meeting community needs.
Residents are now being asked to take part in this first consultation on the ‘principles’ around libraries which are proposed as:
Principle 1 – To provide a Library Service across the borough which provide all residents with access to libraries and electronic services sufficient in number, range and quality to support reading for pleasure, lifelong learning, the development of new skills and the effective use of information.
Principle 2 – To ensure that the needs of more vulnerable residents and groups protected by Equalities legislation are taken fully into account in the provision of these services.
Principle 3 – To ensure that the resources committed to the library service are used as efficiently as possible by exploring options to reduce running and maintenance costs and to share premises with Council and other services.
Principle 4 – To explore options for investing in technology to improve access to the library service for example by extending opening hours, increasing our digital services and enhancing provision for those with sensory impairments.
Principle 5 – To welcome the contribution that members of the community can make to the Library Service as volunteers, supporting both traditional and digital services.
Principle 6 – To meet local aspirations for a network of community spaces across the borough in which the council and local communities can work together as partners in meeting local needs.
Local people who use or do not use Libraries are being asked for their views in a consultation that will start later this month. We raised concerns about the style of Bury’s ‘consultations’, in that we are being asked for our views on fairly uncontroversial principles, but then major decisions are being justified on the basis that we agree with the principles. Our view is that it would be better to ask people more openly what we want or need.
OFSTED Inspection of Services for Children in Need of Help and Protection, Children Looked After and Care Leavers and Review of Local Safeguarding Board
OFSTED have recently undertaken a full inspect of the above services in Bury.
The outcome for Bury was:
The outcome in terms of grades for Bury is as follows:
– Overall Effectiveness – Requires improvement to be good
– Children who need help and protection – good
– Children Looked after and achieving permanence – require improvement
— Adoption – good
— Experiences and progress of care leavers – requires improvement
– Leadership, Management and Governance – good
– Effectiveness of the LSCB – good
There are many good things that the report said about Bury, and to some extent it seems a little unfair that the overall rating was ‘requires improvement’ when four out of six of the individual aspects were rated as ‘good’.
However it is very important that we undertake the services for children who need extra support from the council to a very high standard, and there will be a full action plan developed to make sure that the authority improves in these areas.
Please do not hesitate to ask if you have any queries. The full papers for the meeting are here.