Changes to the way library and children’s centre services are run in a number of local communities will be considered by North Somerset Council’s Executive next week.
A report outlining proposals for seven localities in phase one of the council’s Community Access Review will go before councillors on Tuesday (6 December).
If approved, it will see £820,000 invested in improving buildings and services and longer opening hours at many libraries but changing the way services are run in others.
The report proposes retaining separate libraries and children’s centres in some areas, merging library and children’s centre services in other areas and increasing opening hours at seven premises in the evenings and at weekends.
The proposals for each locality are:
Congresbury – transfer the library to Congresbury Parish Council to run with support from community volunteers
Long Ashton – keep the library and children’s centre in separate buildings and increase library opening hours by introducing self-service system
Pill – move the children’s centre into the library building, refurbish this building and area outside and introduce self-service system to increase opening hours
Weston South – retain the Oldmixon Family Centre and the children’s centre/library at the For All Healthy Living Centre and create a library access point at Oldmixon Family Centre
Winscombe – introduce self-service system to increase library opening hours
Worle – move the library into the children’s centre building in Mendip Avenue, refurbish this building and introduce self-service system to increase opening hours
Yatton – move the children’s centre into the library building in Yatton High Street, refurbish this building and replace the lift, and introduce self-service system to increase opening hours.
If approved, the majority of the changes are due to be implemented by July next year.
These proposals follow a 12-week public engagement and consultation period during the summer when the council sought residents’ views on its Community Access Review – a major review of the buildings and services it runs in the community with particular focus on its 14 children’s centres and 12 libraries.
The consultation attracted more than 500 responses. Feedback showed that:
- communities are very supportive of both library and children’s centre services and staff
- there is a strong desire to retain these services within communities
- there is a lot of support for opening up buildings and extending opening hours through self-service
- there is a general understanding that changes have to be made in order to retain services
- communities are willing to work with the council to help design new services and support delivery.
The council is committed to continuing to deliver these services in its local communities and undertook the review to make sure its buildings and services are fit-for-purpose and in the right place, are cost effective and equipped to deal with the demands of new technology, and are able to meet the current and future needs of residents.
“The council wants to retain service provision within communities,” says the report to next Tuesday’s meeting. “However, the continued delivery of both children’s centres and libraries in their current format is not financially sustainable.
“There is much synergy between both children’s centre and library services. Both provide trusted spaces for our communities, with a focus on customer service. Reducing our overheads and using our resources in the most flexible way will enable us to maintain quality future service provision.”
More details about the review, including links to the Executive report and all the consultation responses, are on the council’s website at www.n-somerset.gov.uk/car.