Today, Friday 2nd March, HOOTLibrary submitted a formal response to the Council’s consultation.
You can read the full report here
You can still make your own submissions to the consultation before Monday 5th. Feel free to refer to anything in this document. Indeed we’d actively encourage it!
When Trafford Council first announced their proposals for library services in the borough, they provided very few details as to how plans to replace paid staff with volunteers in Old Trafford and Hale libraries might be implemented. There was no evidence that any preliminary research had been conducted, there was no reference to any kind of feasibility study, and no formal or informal discussions had been held with any representatives of the community and voluntary sector in Trafford to establish a co-operative partnership to implement the proposals.
In the intervening 13 weeks there has been some correspondence between residents and Council representatives, more information emerged during the process of council scrutiny, and there have been meetings between the community and the council both behind closed doors and at a Neighbourhood Forum. This has added sufficient clarity to the proposal that it has enabled the Council’s claims and assumptions to be checked, and their observance of the statutes of local governance to be examined and analysed.
This document scrutinises in detail some key claims which the Council have made in public to residents of Old Trafford, to elected council members and to the media. HOOTLibrary were told by a Council director that they knew of large numbers of libraries successfully run by volunteers, many of which were comparable to Old Trafford. We investigated the truth of this claim.
This submission reveals that:
Out of 77 known volunteer-staffed libraries which were researched, 64 are in rural areas, small towns and villages. The manager of one such volunteer-run library has explicitly warned that their model could not be replicated in a deprived inner city area.
In Hunmanby, North Yorkshire, proposals similar to those of Trafford failed after sufficient volunteers could not be found. That library is now closing.
Analysis of larger urban libraries revealed no successful precedent for the proposals in Trafford. After the transfer of Lewisham libraries to community control, use of the libraries dropped by 89%.
This report also investigates the promised savings of around £100,000. By breaking down the full extent and costs involved in recruiting a voluntary sector organisation to deliver staff at
Old Trafford library, it demonstrates that any savings are likely to be minimal, while risks are great.
Finally, the report examines the procedures followed by Trafford Council from a legal perspective. It concludes that the Council may be in breach of several statutory obligations in respect of information gathering, numerous inadequacies in the equalities impact assessment conducted ahead of the consultation and finally the council may have breached the doctrine of legitimate expectation by ignoring their own Trafford Compact.
HOOTLibrary believes these pages represent the most systematic and authoritative available analysis of the council’s proposals for Old Trafford Library.
We call upon Trafford Council to apply the principles of evidence-based policy, to consider the full implications of their idea, to show the courage and wisdom to admit any misjudgment before it is too late, and to fundamentally rethink their plans for Trafford’s library services.
Prepared and submitted by Hands Off Old
Trafford Library, March 3rd 2012.