Project Manager to ensure delivery of Trust model is appointed

From an FoI that was recently submitted regarding the recently advertised project manager post that was quickly pulled:

The post that was briefly advertised resulted from a review of the
Libraries, Registration & Archives Service being carried out as part of
the County Council’s transformation programme “Facing the Challenge”. The
review is one of 12 being conducted as part of an ongoing market
engagement and service review stream of activity. A paper was taken to the
County Council meeting in May 2014, and the preferred option was to
establish a Kent Trust to operate the service. The paper can be found at
the following link and is agenda item 12.

[1] https://democracy.kent.gov.uk/documents/g5522/Public%20reports%20pack%2015th-May-2014%2010.00%20County%20Council.pdf?T=10

As a result of this published decision, there was a need to consider the
best way for the service to contribute to the production of a full
business case which is the next stage of the process and additional
resource was considered. As a result, an exchange of e-mails occurred on
9 June 2014 between KCC and Connect2Kent (C2K). C2K provide a ‘vendor
managed service’ for Kent County Council in respect of the provision of
temporary agency workers and other non-directly employed workers. The
e-mail correspondence relates to setting up a meeting to discuss the
proposed Project Manager role. Copies of the e-mail are attached.

On 19 June 2014, a meeting took place involving KCC and C2K. The meeting
was an initial face to face briefing on the requirements of the project
management role and the type of candidate that would be required. The
intention of the meeting was to explore the range of possible candidates
available and therefore inform decision making about how to take this
particular project forward.

An advert that appeared on the [2]jobsinkent.com site (along with other
media) was placed by C2K without the involvement and approval from KCC.
This was not what was required and is the reason for the advert’s
subsequent withdrawal. When our initial response to your FOI stated “the
post was advertised without reference to Libraries” this was meant to
convey that it was placed without reference to the Libraries, Registration
and Archives service. Clearly the advert does mention Libraries and it is
unfortunate that the language in our original response was ambiguous, for
which I apologise.

The request to C2K to ensure that the advert was removed with immediate
effect was made by KCC on 30 June 2014. The request was made by telephone
and e-mail. A copy of the e-mail is attached.

For your information, the post of project manager has recently been filled
by an internal candidate. [Emphasis mine]

The full email exchange regarding the job advert can be read here.

The thing that jumps out more than anything is that the position has been filled internally. Presumably the appointment was made along the lines of the advert that was posted, although there has been no confirmation of this. It does, however, strike me as highly unlikely that the post filled bears no relation to the job description that clearly evolved as a result of discussion between KCC and C2K.

Essentially, the Council has decided that Kent libraries will be run under a Trust, perhaps by the end of 2015. Everything has been put in place. The Council leadership are clearly keen to drive it through. It would be a massive shock if a Trust does not happen, regardless of the (likely loaded) public consultation that will take place (watch out for limited choices that suggest either a Trust or library closures and/or job losses).

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CLIK is in the news…

CLIK has made the news. News Shopper picked up on our fortunate stumbling across an interesting job advert that suggested Kent had already decided what the future holds for public libraries across the county. This job advert has become particularly interesting in light of the recent ruling in Lincolnshire where the council appeared to have decided its plans regardless of the outcome of a consultation (Kent County Council has not yet consulted with the public about library service provision across the county).

News Shopper reports:

“The ad has now been pulled but one councillor told News Shopper he was “not very happy” to hear about it being posted online and he is concerned about job cuts under the proposed restructure.”

The council has admitted that the advert was a “mistake” and that “as soon as this was spotted it was withdrawn immediately”. They go on to add:

“Further work is now being done to look at options and assess the viability of these proposals and how they might be implemented.

“No formal decisions have yet been taken and if the recommendations of this process are for a significant change in how libraries currently work, full public consultation will follow.”

Laughable that they are sticking with “if”. We will not be surprised if this route is confirmed following, of course, an entirely balanced consultation that will in no way lead people to accept the model they clearly desire.

Cllr Mike Hill added:

“No firm decisions would be made until a detailed business case is drawn up.”

Of course not Mike. We fully expect you to plot a democratic path, ensuring the people of Kent have a fair say in the future for libraries and we have full confidence that the dice will not be loaded in favour of the Trust model.

We will reserve judgement until we see the consultation. But we have little doubt about how it will be constructed. With little effective opposition, the Council will undoubtedly press ahead with what it wants regardless. Ahhhh…the sweet smell of Kentish democracy…


Labour Councillor Speaks Out

CLIK has also received the following comment from Labour councillor Tom Maddison:

As a Kent County Council Member for Dartford this information is helpful and worrying also.

Library Services are so integral to the communities they serve and the Democratic Local Authority charged with responsibility to provide them it is essential we get things right . We must make sure genuine and proper consultation takes place especially with the public and communities that depend on the service. We must take account of all views expressed before deciding on any major change in the present service model for our Libraries and that would include Trust`s model`s also .

I do worry that paid employment will be lost in favour of volunteers and this is not a proper way to run a Public Service especially Libraries.

Easy come, easy go…

After revealing yesterday that a post for a “Project Manager” to “ensure the implementation and delivery of a trust model for Kent Libraries, Registration and Archives” had been advertised on the Jobs in Kent website, today we discover that this vacancy has now disappeared. Apparently this was due to some internal mis-communication. Interesting.

We can also confirm that Cath Anley is not planning on being involved in any future plans for Kent libraries and is leaving to seek new horizons. We’re happy to put the record straight on Cath’s future plans.

Without consultation, have Kent already decided what’s next for public libraries?

It certainly appears that this is the case. On Friday the following vacancy was posted on the Jobs in Kent website:

Project Manager - Transformation Delivery Libraries

Note in particular the opening paragraph of the job posting:

Our client requires a competent and confident results driven individual who will play a critical role working collaboratively with external stakeholders to ensure the implementation and delivery of a trust model for Kent Libraries, Registration and Archives.

The vacancy is for someone who can ensure that the trust model goes ahead for Libraries, Registration and Archives. This, of course, rather implies that the decision has been made and soon public libraries across Kent will be handed to a trust (seemingly mirroring Suffolk’s model for library service delivery). There has not, as yet, been any public consultation regarding this potential move with Kent County Council and with little in the way of effective political opposition across the county, councillors are probably thinking that their plans will have an easy passage and before long the county’s libraries will be in the hands of a trust.

What adds an interesting hint of intrigue to these plans is that the current head of public libraries in Kent, Cath Anley, is standing down from her post later this year. It’s believed that she is leaving to “explore her own business interests”. It’s unclear whether this is away from libraries or whether she might find herself involved in a trust running public libraries. Either way, the timing of the departure is interesting. Maybe it’s a case of seeing what is ahead and jumping ship. Maybe.