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Monday, 10 November 2014

Original FKRL Proposal and Why it was Refused

I am still getting comments on the issue of Kensal Rise Library, even though the decision on it was made more than three years ago.  Rather than publish the same comments over and over again, I thought I would just publish the text of the original report.  You can see the full documentation here, with the reasons for refusing the FKRL proposal on page 157 of the appendices.  The formatting of the text is difficult, so it may be better to read it in the original (via the link), but as I know many people choose not to do this, I thought it worth quoting in full.   

I have put the original text in italics.  The report was divided into a heading, a short desciption of the proposition, followed by the officers' comments. I have put the headings in bold, the proposition underlined and the comments in normal italics

As I said, I don't intend to publish any more comments on this.  FKRL is apparently working on whatever they want to do in the space they have securing in the now privately owned former Kensal Rise Library Building.  I don't think there can be any useful discussion before those are published.

Viability of the group making this proposal
Existing group becomes a Charitable Trust which then enters into a joint venture with the Council to 
run the library. 
New formation. Existing Friends no experience of running services, managing
staff or volunteers. Lots of enthusiasm at the moment. Will this last? No costs included for running the 
group (eg accountancy, audit etc) Why would the Council enter into a JV? This deliberately transfers 
all risk back tothe Council, which was never an acceptable route.
Viability of proposals
To run on a volunteer basis with limited staffing. Open up upper floors, through capital investment,
and run on quasi- commercial basis. Proposal has three phases: 1 – Form JV, run mostly with
volunteers with 6hrs paid hours per day and opening for longer hours and with some additional
activities. 2 – undertake works to convert upper two floors, target completion 9/12. 3 - use first floor 
as learning space and upper floor as space for hire (back up plan as commercial hot desking office
See comments below on staffing and volunteers.
Revenue information 
Costs in 10/11 for LBB have been reduced significantly, prior to the Library Transformation Project, 
by a range of efficiency measures. FKRL believe (for reasons not clear in the proposal) that this alters 
the issues, and also wish to reduce those numbers. The further efficiencies do not alter the relative 
usage of the different libraries in the service. Officers have reviewed the Cipfa Library stats 2009-10 
actuals (referenced in the proposal.) The financial information is aggregated at overall summary levels 
and thus it is not possible to identify Kensal Rise Library costs separately from this. The 2009-10 
budgeted costs for Kensal Rise were £24k net expenditure excluding staffing expenditure which is 
coded elsewhere and the 2010-11 budgeted costs for Kensal Rise are £31k net expenditure (again 
excluding staff costs). This relates to a reduction in the amount of budgeted income. Thus the net 
expenditure has arisen by £7k between the 2 years. The Friends suggest an amendment to the 
10/11 figures of 6,000. This is not correct, insofar as their assumptions are spelt out, but is also not a 
significant difference.
Revenue figures
Projected figures are not numbers for Phases 1, 2 and 3, but it is assumed the council contribution 
figures are per financial year, that Phase 1 runs till the building work begins (late 2011 on timescale 
suggested) Phase 2 then till September 12 and Phase 3 thereafter.
Phase 1 – even with the amended figures used, this relies on a Council contribution of £66,665. No 
income is assumed beyond the 5000 currently attributed to book sales and late returns.
Phase 2 – assumes a 50% increase in opening hours (1000 to 1900, 6 days a week) and a 
corresponding increase of 50% in staffing costs, and some small additions to costs of premises. Income
still at 5000. Council contribution now 80,661. Additional opening hours etc are despite the 
considerable disruption major building works require.
Phase 3 – Assumed significant additional revenue increase. The first floor proposal has potential given 
the stated interest from IntoUniveristy (although no signed letter of support was included.) The
second floor revenue assumption is riskier as neither community letters nor commercial hot-desk 
spaces are a strong business model, yet over £24k revenue is assumed. Council contribution 
now 55,319, and ongoing per annum. Income from sales/fines etc
– the figures assume continuing revenue of 5k per year. In fact this is diminishing as more
and more people renew on line, thus avoiding fines, and rental of DVDs is dropping dramatically. This 
is unreliable income.
Capital costs
The proposal is somewhat confusing on this front. The Council’s ongoing capital maintenance costs, 
set out according to usual practice represent £488,450 over 20 years. This does not allow for major
damage that would require additional resources. To this, the group has added just £17,478 for 
building a lift, and an unspecified sum for ‘fit-out’ which would include door widening, fire 
escape etc. To make the upper floors of Kensal Rise library DDA compliant will cost a very 
significant sum of money; provisional estimates by officers drawing experience of similar projects 
elsewhere suggest at least £250k. The proposal envisages raising this sum, but does not 
acknowledge how much will be needed to achieve the plan outlined above, in addition to regular 
Fundraising strategy for capital
The proposal is weak on real evidence of ability to raise these sums. Although the Globe Theatre is

given as a comparator,

this building has nothing resembling the same stature or appeal. No definite private or commercial 
sponsors in place. On public funds, this proposal also relies on £10,000 per year from ward working 
(in addition to the sums outlined above), a plan subject to both the continuation of that budget and 
 the agreement of members in the relevant wards. The group suggests preliminary discussions with 
the Mayor’s office, but there is no evidence of committed support. The group does not give any 
 evidence of experience of fund-raising (public or private) amongst its members.
The proposal envisages completing capital works by 9/12, which would mean starting on site at the 
very latest in 9/11, which would mean raising an assumed £250k in the next six months from a 
standing start. This is not a credible plan on the basis of the evidence presented.
Quality of the Proposals
Starts similar hours etc to current offer. Changes proposed after the capital investment completed.
Volunteers: unclear how volunteers will be identified for specific roles (front of house, stock 
management, security, library development etc), trained, managed and supported. A detailed delivery 
plan will be required, which appropriate are subject to CRB checks, and ongoing recruitment of new 
volunteers as people choose to move on. How will security be managed (eg if there are keyholders) 
across a large and shifting group of people? The group is explicit about proposals to identify 
volunteers and potential work experience interns, but not about the ongoing management of a 
complex and shifting group. It would be appropriate to develop a proper volunteer management 
strategy and show how the group has the expertise to deliver it. This should address health and 
safety issues, not least those relating to people working alone in public buildings.
– the proposal assumes 6 working hours a day (1 librarian and 1 assistant librarian working 3 hours 
each). It is not clear what the roles of these staff would be, or their relationship to the volunteers, the 
 Trust or the joint venture company. The group appears to assume these staff would remain LBB 
employees, but the sums allocated are considerably lower than those required, especially when 
 overheads, training, management etc are taken into account. The issue of staffing and related costs 
 needs careful review.
The Trust
– who runs it and where are the costs of its management?
Stock and services
– the proposal assumes that the KR library remains part of the LBB library ecology for the
purposes of membership and stock management. This would mean remaining linked to the LBB system 
for issuing cards, access to returns and renewals, acquiring new users and buying books. This has led 
 the group to allow only £500 is allocated to buy books in Phases 1 and 2). The group would be tied to 
LBB penalties etc to ensure fairness. LBB users have access to 14 boroughs’ libraries through the 
Summary comment and appraisal Consortium, so protocols must be developed and enforced for data 
access within government guidelines on security.. Stock buying - the Trust has allocated 500 for stock 
compared to the £19,500 currently ascribed to buying new stock for Kensal Rise library in the current 
arrangements (£550K stock acquisitions budget in 11/12, spread across 12 libraries.) If this model was
 adopted, there is a (small but not zero) overhead cost for  processing. Stock standards the proposal is 
silent on ensuring that the stock does not include (for example) offensive or racist material, and does
 seek to meet the needs of local people, presumably because stock acquisition decisions would be left 
with LBB, although no overhead is assumed for this role. 
Promotion of diversity and inclusion. 
 Little is said in the proposal. 
It should be noted that a great deal of effort is being put into achieving DDA compliance in a building
 ill-suited to contemporary demands for access. Such access, however desirable, does not mean that 
the organisation has met the Council’s expectations around issues of diversity and inclusion 
regarding eg book stock, availability of space for a wide range of groups, or access to volunteering. 
Delivering the Council’s savings.
The proposal assumes the following grant from the Council although the timescales are not given in 
the paperwork beyond aiming to complete work in 9/12: Phase 1: 61,665 - say for 6 months –30,832 
Phase 2: 85, 661, say for 1 year Phase 3: 55,319 say from 9/12,  and then one year thereafter to 3/14 
82,978 This gives total subsidy (assuming no capital support) over the first three years of operation of 
£163,670 subsidy over 3 years.  Does not meet savings expectations, of zero cost to Council. Over the 
EU thresholds for provision of services (currently £156,000 for the contract) Note comments above 
risky assumptions around both capital and revenue, and probable underestimate of costs for staffing 
and books and services overheads. Note that if the model assumed at Phase1 were continued over time, 
at 61,665 per annum (if this number is correct, the EU thresholds would still be exceeded before  
three years of operation.

Acceptability of contractual terms and transfer of risk
The proposal assumes that the joint venture company would run the building subject to consent fro
m All Souls College.
Because of the assumed JV, the risk would remain with the Council. The outline capital strategy refers to the straight-line assumed maintenance costs identified in the council’s asset management strategy, but is inadequate to meet them, meaning that there would
remain a considerable outstanding liability on the Council itself.
Operational contract
– the proposal is silent on a number of key issues relating, for example to staffing, public liability, insurance etc.
– see comments above. If the staff remained LBB employees,appropriate oncosts and management overheads must be identified.
Risk to the Council in proposed route
The identified subsidy would rapidly exceed EU thresholds.
There are considerable inherent risks identified in financial expectations, property management and staffing. If these were resolved, then the Council would need to consider the impact of procurement regulations on this proposal.

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