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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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.