Kent’s plans

What are Kent’s plans for public libraries across the county? It’s difficult to say at present and we will need to watch developments closely. It appears that a Trust model is very much on the cards as confirmed by Cllr Mike Hill in May:

“We are looking at a range of options and are drawing up a business case. There are number of different models but in principle, it would work as some kind of trust.”

While some library trusts are working as not-for-profit organisations, Mr Hill said that might not be the case with KCC.

KCC is conducting a wholesale review of every single service through what it describes as “market engagement and service review.”

What with the job advertisement posted (in error) by KCC, a Trust model certainly seems on the cards. We will need to keep a very close eye on developments.

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One thought on “Kent’s plans

  1. In more detail – Kent CC have stated:

    [Kent County Council – 16 May 2014 meeting – supporting papers – page 75]

    F. Libraries, Registration & Archives (LRA) Review:

    3.15 The preferred option on the Libraries, Registration and Archives review is to
    establish a Kent Trust to operate the service. A number of alternative options were
    considered as part of the review but not recommended, including:
    • Retain Service In-House but Transform Further
    • Commissioned Model through Outsourced provision
    • Partnership/JV with External Provider
    • Partnership/JV with Public Sector Partner – Library Authority
    • Partnership/JV with Public Sector Partner – Non-Library Authority

    3.16 The review of the Libraries, Registration and Archive (LRA) service has involved considerable engagement activity, in particular with other local authorities but also through a soft market testing exercise referred to as ‘deep dives’ involving two external providers. In regards to the national picture, there is a mixed approach as to how libraries are commissioned and provided by local authorities. Some authorities have outsourced their library services to external providers under contract; others have attempted to move to a community-owned library model.

    3.17 The review has identified moving to a Kent Library Trust model as the preferred
    option. The advantages to moving libraries to a Trust arrangement, which would be a
    Community Benefit Society operating for the benefit of the community under the
    Industrial Provident Society, are significant. In particular the Trust can be classed as
    charitable; with ‘exempt charity’ status enabling tax breaks such as National Non-
    Domestic Rates (NNDR) relief, with the potential for the Trust to reduce overheads
    and further increase income. However, under the Trust model, the assets remain
    with KCC and it is possible to create a governance mechanism to ensure Member
    representation and influence over the service. Successful transitions to a Trust model have been undertaken by several other local authorities, and there is an opportunity for KCC to further learn from others who have already gone down this route. Through the development of the Full Business Case it will be important to consider how the provider of the service will be commissioned alongside the creation of the Trust, as the model does not limit the option of an external provider being commissioned to run libraries, which may provide an opportunity for further savings. Whilst the Full Business Case is being developed, the Future Library Service (FLS) programme, the existing in-house change programme, will focus on the pre-existing work around transferring some KCC libraries to community ownership where appropriate.

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