The Council has today published its draft budget for 2015-16 making cuts of over £70m from council services including significant cuts to the city’s libraries.
The opening hours of the Library of Birmingham are to be cut from 73 to 40 and this could lead to the loss of a 100 jobs. Less will be spent on new books and the support the LoB gives to Community Libraries will be cut. Access to the Library at Home service will continue to be restricted to existing users. The budget cut for 2015-16 is £1.5m but this rises to £3.3m in the next financial year. The current cost of running Library of Birmingham is £22m a year including the debt repayment, noting that the overhead debt repayment will continue to be paid with a much diminished service.
Community Libraries will have to contribute towards cuts of £4.2m from the budget for District services. Immediately District Committees will have to consider the opening hours of each library and make reductions in the book fund.
But there will be a medium term review looking at future options for the running of the Community Library service. This includes the possible closure of libraries where ‘there is duplication of provision or where the building is no longer viable’. But the review will look at who and how the Community Libraries might be delivered including a staff mutual and also handing over libraries to volunteers and community organisations.
The Council has a duty to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient library service’ under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964. It is important to remember that the Library service is a statutory service. The outcome of this Review against the backdrop of future spending cuts represents a serious threat to the future of a viable city-wide and publicly library service.
Budget Consultation 2015+ : a White Paper
STAND UP FOR BIRMINGHAM LIBRARIES
It is now consultation time with the City Council. The Cabinet will be holding two consultation meetings and running a webcast on its 2015-16 budget proposals. It is important that we speak out now at these sessions. It is certain that there will be significant cuts across the range of Council services, including the community libraries and The Library of Birmingham. Remember – once a library is closed or hived off by the Council, the community will never get it back.
Details of the sessions are given at the end of this note. The webcast is today (Wed 10 Dec), so prompt action is needed.
2 TOPICS WHICH HAVE EMERGED DURING OUR CAMPAIGN
You might wish to put a question based on one of these concerns which have been raised by library users during FoLoB’s campaigning:
i) a ‘mutual’ is an organisation outside the public sector to which public services are hived off. If, as seems likely, community libraries are given to a mutual to run, the community loses ownership and control, and under EU regulations it seems that the services have to be tendered after 5 years with private sector organisations allowed to bid.
ii) a substantial backlog of repairs to library buildings could leave a mutual with insufficient funds to provide normal library services
iii) the Council, in answer to a question from a member of the public put to it at the January Council meeting, declined to give a commitment that it would rescue a community library if a mutual failed
iv) the potential loss of meeting rooms for many community groups if library buildings are closed and sold off
v) we face further cuts to the already reduced mobile library service and The Library Service at Home, which serve people who are unable to get to a library
You will probably be able to think of many other losses to your community which deep cuts to the library service would bring
3 DETAILS OF CONSULTATION SESSIONS
WEBCAST : BUDGET QUESTIONS TO BCC CABINET 6-8 p.m. WEDNESDAY 10 DECEMBER
Cabinet members will be online to answer budget consultation questions. You can send these in advance, or during the session, to firstname.lastname@example.org The Cabinet will answer questions in the two-hour timeslot. More information will be available from 10 th December at http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/brumbudget15
PUBLIC CONSULTATION SESSION 1, BIRMINGHAM CITY CENTRE, 6-8 p.m. THURSDAY 11 DECEMBER
Venue : Birmingham Council House,Victoria Square, Birmingham B1 1BB
You can book a place online at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/brumbudget1516
PUBLIC CONSULTATION SESSION 2, ERDINGTON,6-8 p.m. MONDAY 15 DECEMBER 2014
The venue is The Lighthouse Centre, St Barnabas Church, High Street, Erdington B23 6SY
Booking as for consultation session 1
It’s crunch time now – act this week!