Search This Blog

Friday 12 December 2014

Libraries, Arts & Heritage in Brent

The proposed changes to Brent's Libraries, Arts & Heritage strike me as even odder in terms of recent announcements for the area.  To remind, the Council latest staff restructuring proposals include the idea of merging the Sports, Parks and Cemeteries post with the Libraries, Art & Heritage one.  This is predicated on the idea that libraries are being drastically cut back.

In fact, libraries seem to be getting off relatively lightly as far as the recent budget proposals are concerned.  The only stated cut is of about £100k to the book fund.  Of course, this follows a substantial upheaval with the Libraries Transformation Project, so it may well be that there is not much more to cut without a drastic change in strategy.

The oddity of the timing is that the post are proposed for deletion just as the management issues are incredibly complicated.  A new museum & archive strategy is due in January.  The new Willesden Library Centre will open in the Summer (incorporating a Museum and Archive).  The Arts team is being tapered down to concentrate on the new building in Willesden and then being abolished.  The existing commitment to the Tricycle Theatre is being wound down to nothing under these plans.  A new trust is mooted to avoid business rates, which will require someone to design a really watertight specification if (for example) the service is privatised along Ealing & Harrow lines. 

Simultaneously, there is vague talk of basing some sort of privatised library at both the former Preston Library and the former Kensal Rise Library, and who knows where else.   This would require an entirely different model of delivering library services involving people who have never delivered any library services in the past, and involves a host of legal issues, if it comes about.  There are also the obvious industrial relations problems of library staff presumably being asked to co-operate with people substituting them as volunteers (quite possibly at a net cost to the taxpayer).

That all sounds extremely complicated to me, and yet this is the point at which the people running Brent's Human Resources Department have decided to get rid of all the experienced managers.

No comments:

Post a Comment