Libraries, Community Hubs and Office Accommodation Consultations end 13 May

South Gloucestershire Council would like to encourage those who wish to make their views known on the future of Library Services, the approach to Community Hubs and the Office Accommodation review, to take part in the consultation process before it closes on 13 May.

Significant savings are needed in the budgets for libraries and the amount the council spends on its buildings. The council is also looking to introduce a Community Hub model, where appropriate, to provide multiple services from single locations.

The measures are part of the updated Council Savings Plan (CSP), approved as part of the 2016/17 council budget in February, which set out savings of an additional £22million from annual spending by 2019/20.

Full details on each of the consultations, including background information and options being proposed are available online at www.southglos.gov.uk/consultation

Public feedback to the consultations has so far been very strong, but there is still time to take part if you would like your views considered as part of the decision making process.

In addition to public views on library services, the consultation process is also seeking expressions of interest from groups and organisations with new ideas and willing to discuss alternative service delivery and funding options for the future. These include submissions from parish councils and voluntary community organisations, with innovative ideas about contributing funding and/or volunteer time to extend opening hours. Any other individuals or organisations who wish to propose alternative ideas for consideration as part of the review are encouraged to complete the consultation process and submit an expression of interest.

Council Leader, Matthew Riddle, encouraged people to take part:

“The council has no choice but to reduce spending, but we do have a choice in how we do it. Our priority remains to protect front line services, particularly those delivering for the most vulnerable, wherever we can.

“We want to make sure our services are sustainable, which means getting the change right for the long-term. Now we have developed options, we want to hear views on how we can make sure our services can continue to deliver for the future.

“I want to encourage everyone to take part because your input will affect the decision making process, and the decisions we make in turn will affect the way we deliver services in the future.”

Following the close of the consultation process, Members will be presented with the findings from the public engagement to help them make their decisions.

The next steps for the review of Library Services will be to pursue more detailed discussions with those groups and organisations that have expressed an interest in supporting library services in some new way. These discussions will continue over the coming months, before a new paper is presented to Councillors in September. It is hoped that updated, library-by-library plans, will be able to build on the initial position laid out in the consultation proposals, to deliver the maximum local library service possible, while still making the required savings.

The next stage in the Accommodation Review will be the presentation of a new paper to Committee in June. This will include the results of public feedback to the consultation process as well as updated information on the possible options to deliver office space and frontline services in Kingswood.

For Community Hubs, Members will be updated in September on residents’ views about incorporating multiple services, and possibly services delivered by other public sector bodies, from single points of contact in local communities. If adopted, the approach would be only be implemented following further consultation in the affected areas. The areas currently prioritised for looking at delivering services in this way are Kingswood, Patchway and Yate and the council will also look to develop plans to pilot new technological ways of providing access to some services in Thornbury.

It is important to remember that no decisions have been made on any of these matters, and won’t be until the council has heard from residents and councillors have had a chance to consider what they have to say.