Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Bath. View directions

Contact: Michaela Gay  01225 394411

Note: Scheduled business for the meeting on 13th November will now go to 20th November meeting 

Items
No. Item

37.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and made the following statement,

 

The purpose of this meeting is for this panel to decide whether Cabinet should be requested to reconsider its decisions of 11th October 2017 with regard to ‘Modern Libraries Bath’ (E2999) and ‘Modern Libraries – Community Library Approach’ (E3000).

 

As such, today’s meeting will be limited to considering those Cabinet decisions and the reasons for them; plus the issues set out in the 3 Call in requests. These are contained in appendices to the report. Speakers and participants must confine their remarks to those issues and I will not allow the introduction of new issues.

 

This panel has three options available to it:

 

·  The first option is that we could dismiss the Call in. This would mean that Cabinet’s decision would take effect immediately.

·  The second option is that we could uphold all or part of the Call in. This would mean that Cabinet would have to re-consider its decision in light of our comments.

·  The third option is that we could decide that the Call in request should be considered by the full Council instead of by this panel, who would be fulfilling the role of the Scrutiny Panel in upholding or dismissing the Call in.  If Council upheld all or part of the Call in, this would also mean that Cabinet would have to reconsider its decision in the light of this.

Whatever the outcome of today’s meeting (or the Council undertaking this role), it is important to remember that the final decisions will rest with the Council’s Cabinet.

 

The Modern Libraries decisions are high profile issues upon which many members of the Council have expressed opinions, including myself; and I have also put my name to the Call in notice.

 

However, we are not here to decide upon the merits of the Modern Libraries proposals. Our job is to decide if Cabinet should re-consider its decision. Therefore, I wish to make it clear that I am entirely open minded about the outcome of this Call in application and I will be basing my decision upon the evidence and representations before me.

 

If any member of the panel feels that they are unable to make a decision on the Call in with an open mind, please would they say so now.

 

Members of the panel should also be aware that, under the Council’s constitution, members have a duty to declare that they are subject to a party whip and the nature of it. I can confirm that I am not subject to a party whip in this meeting. If any members of the panel are subject to a party whip, please would they declare it now.

Finally, can I make it clear that nobody can pass notes to members of the panel during the meeting.

 

Thank you’

 

No such declarations regarding a party whip were made.

38.

EMERGENCY EVACUATION PROCEDURE

The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.

 

39.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

Minutes:

Councillor Richard Samuel sent his apologies as a member of the Panel and was substituted by Councillor Dine Romero.

 

(note: Councillor Samuel was present at the meeting as lead Call in member)

40.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

At this point in the meeting declarations of interest are received from Members in any of the agenda items under consideration at the meeting. Members are asked to indicate:

(a) The agenda item number in which they have an interest to declare.

(b) The nature of their interest.

(c) Whether their interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other interest,  (as defined in Part 2, A and B of the Code of Conduct and Rules for Registration of Interests)

Any Member who needs to clarify any matters relating to the declaration of interests is recommended to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officeror a member of her staff before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.

Minutes:

There were none.

41.

TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIRMAN

Minutes:

There was none.

42.

ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC OR COUNCILLORS - TO RECEIVE DEPUTATIONS, STATEMENTS, PETITIONS OR QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE BUSINESS OF THIS MEETING

Public speaking will take place during agenda items 7 and 8.

 

Minutes:

The following people made statements to the Panel regarding Bath Library:

  1. Caroline Ambrose made a statement supporting the call in (a copy of the statement is attached to these minutes)

In response to a question from Councillor Romero, Caroline Ambrose stated that she did not believe the proposed project was deliverable and that there was not enough space – a large number of private conversations take place in the One Stop Shop.

2.  Dionne Pemberton made a statement supporting the call in. She stated that she felt the Council approach is flawed.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Butters, Dionne Pemberton stated that the needs of users must be assessed and that this has not been done.

  1. Andy Halliday made a statement supporting the call in (a copy of the statement is attached to these minutes)
  2. William Heath made a statement supporting the call in. He stated that community funding could be explored. He added that the Library and One Stop Shop are both distinct and valuable services and queried what other options have been considered.

Councillor Bull asked why users of the library and OSS should not be mixed. William Heath stated that the different needs must be assessed and that highly trained staff are needed for the triage process of assessing user needs.

  1. Councillor Joe Rayment made a statement supporting the call in. He stated that he supports integration which has worked in Keynsham but that this should be done to improve both services. He added that he feels the One Stop Shop users will suffer as it is currently located near the bus and train station and in a discreet area and to move to the Waitrose site would mean a busy area which is difficult for the private conversations that are needed. He stated that the Keynsham service was purpose built and not crow barring one service into another which may diminish both.

The following people made statements to the Panel regarding Community Library Approach:

1.  Caroline Ambrose made a statement supporting the call in (a copy of the statement is attached to these minutes)

 

When asked about examples of other areas, Caroline Ambrose gave the examples of Chester and Worcestershire (the Hive). In response to a question from Councillor Anketell Jones, she replied that it is possible for the library to generate income, for example from renting out the 75 seat event room.

  1. Duncan Hounsell made a statement supporting the call in (a copy of the statement is attached to these minutes)

Councillor Romero asked if, to his knowledge, any consultation had taken place with Saltford Library users to assess the capacity of the local volunteering community. Duncan Hounsell stated that he had an email from the Saturday morning volunteers and they have not been consulted, also the Friends of Saltford Library have not been consulted.

  1. Alison Hall made a statement supporting the call in. She stated that the consultation so far has been poor and that a vast pool of volunteers would be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

Additional documents:

43.

Modern Libraries Bath - Consultation outcomes and proposals pdf icon PDF 208 KB

This report sets out the call-in by 12 Councillors of the decision relating to the agreed decision to move the One Stop Shop to the Podium. The role of the Panel is to consider the issues raised by the call-in and to determine its response.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited the Lead Call in Member Councillor Richard Samuel to make a statement. Councillor Samuel stated that actions should be clear and supported by facts and that scrutiny is necessary where decisions appear irrational. He highlighted the four main issues in the call in notice which were: the need for scrutiny on the expenditure on the project to date; the lack of consultation on co-location; lack of evidence of the practicality of co-locating both services and issues around the deliverability of the project (Councillor Samuel gave Panel members some information on the lease documentation which is attached to these minutes). He concluded by saying that if the Panel has any doubts, the decision must be sent back to the Cabinet to fill in the gaps.

 

The Panel made the following points and asked the following questions:

 

Councillor Bull asked Councillor Samuel to explain the point about the space, Councillor Samuel stated that when a public body plans spending such as this, there should be early work to assess if the proposals are possible. He stated that it would give people more confidence if they could see plans of how the One Stop Shop (OSS) could be transferred into the library space.

 

Councillor Romero stated that there had been a lesser response from OSS users and asked if it was fair to assume that they might need private areas to discuss sensitive issues. She also asked about the risks regarding deliverability. Councillor Samuel stated that, with his experience of being a trustee of CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) he did think that OSS users would need to use private interview spaces.

 

There was some discussion around the paper on the lease handed out by Councillor Samuel (attached to these minutes). Councillor Anketell Jones asked if the situation referred to in paragraph 7 is likely (a lease termination), Councillor Samuel stated that clarity was needed on this.

 

Councillor Butters asked if the Guildhall had been considered as a venue for the Library, to which Councillor Samuel explained that it was, but it was one of the three locations that were discounted. Councillor Samuel stated that he was told at Cabinet that £25k had been spent so far but that the members briefing paper provided (attached to these minutes) quoted £108k professional fees.

 

The Chair invited the Cabinet member for Transformation and Customer Services, Councillor Karen Warrington to make a statement. Councillor Warrington stated that there are examples where integration (Library and OSS) has worked well and she felt that the blend of the two services will make both sustainable, and benefit users. She explained that the next stage in the process was about engagement with stakeholders and design. She explained that the costs had been included in previous papers but had been circulated again for clarity. She explained that the consultation survey was available online and in hard copy and the results were on the website along with the needs assessment and Equality Impact Assessment. She further explained that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.

Additional documents:

44.

Modern Libraries - Community Library approach pdf icon PDF 189 KB

This report sets out the call-in received by 11 Councillors of the decision relating to the agreed approach to run Community libraries in Bath & North East Somerset. This also covers the points raised by a second call-in notice, also received within the 5 day call-in period, by a further 13 Councillors. The role of the Panel is to consider the issues raised by both call-in notices and to determine its response.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited the Lead Call in Member Councillor Joe Rayment to make a statement (Call in 1).

 

Councillor Rayment read a statement on behalf of Councillors Bevan and Walker which supported and endorsed the call in and noted their particular concerns over the effect of a possible cut of the mobile library service on vulnerable groups.

 

Councillor Rayment made his statement as lead call in Councillor (Call in 1). He explained that he did not think the Cabinet report had been put together well and that a ‘click and collect’ book service did not constitute a library, as a library is a safe space, not just a book delivery system. He explained that he thought the outcome of the proposals would be that people in affluent areas would get a good library service but maybe not so in other areas. He queried the statement in the report that states that the proposals will help communities to become more resilient. Councillor Rayment listed some questions he had over the practicalities of the proposals including: who would pay utility bills on the building; what evidence was there that groups would volunteer; how would they raise money and what would happen if a Parish Council could not do this, or if there was no Parish Council. He further stated that he thought users should be consulted; that assurances should be given that the mobile library service would not be cut and that the EIA (Equality Impact Assessment) had been available to Cabinet and the public before the decision was made.

 

The Chair invited the Lead Call in Member Councillor Richard Samuel to make a statement (Call in 2).

 

Councillor Samuel stated that a case had not been made for this initiative. He stated that mobile libraries are crucial to the community and that there had been no meaningful consultation or discussion with local users. He gave an example of a similar proposal in Kent which was eventually reined back. He stated that the issue over property ownership needed clarity. He added that there must be clarity over the plans for the mobile library; the vehicle is old and usage falls when it is unreliable. He concluded that the report was very thin and the implications for each library and the mobile library must be clearly set out.

 

The Panel made the following points and asked the following questions:

 

Councillor Romero asked if the lead call in Councillors thought that there was an untapped pool of volunteers ready to help and also if they thought that rural communities would end up with a click and collect book service; and if so, whether the closures of local pubs and shops may cause a problem. Councillor Rayment stated that he was not aware of any hidden groups of volunteers. Councillor Samuel stated that he had heard about the volunteering service in Paulton and explained that he had experience of CAB (Citizens Advice Bureau) and has had experience of some potential problems with relying on volunteers  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.