Issued by City of York Council
City of York Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the development of a business plan for a potential community benefit society for the council’s libraries and archive services, at a meeting on the 8 January.
Cabinet will also be asked for permission to conduct additional community and staff engagement work, and to establish a shadow board for the purpose of taking forward this work.
This approach supports the council’s ambition to engage the voluntary sector and pursue alternative delivery models tailored to local need, underpinned by membership of the Co-operative Council movement. The highly-successful and original York Explore concept already works with volunteers who deliver 4,000 hours a year – which puts York in the top seven performing authorities in the country – and looks to develop this commitment in consultation with local service providers and users.
The request for development would focus on business objectives and an entrepreneurial approach to accessing new funding streams, grants and trading activities to generate income. Crucial to that work would be involving the community in developing and delivering the service and giving employees a strong stake in developing and directing the organisation to provide robust and transparent governance arrangements.
The council’s library service is on track to be the first service in the country to secure its future by developing a community benefit society, and will use expert advice and support provided by the Cabinet Office. The council’s library service successfully bid to the Cabinet Office Mutuals Support Programme for practical support to develop imaginative solutions to future budget pressures.
Cllr Sonja Crisp, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Tourism said: “Public libraries are vitally important. Their work on literacy, employability, digital inclusion and promoting the joy of reading are key to the community they sit in; providing a welcoming community space for all.
“Continuing to run York’s library service as it is currently structured is not viable in the long term with ongoing Government funding reductions – we have seen closures happening across the region. York is committed to supporting exemplary and innovative libraries and Explore centres, and we feel this approach is a way of doing this”
“This recently-awarded Cabinet Office support will let us support the service in the way residents want and is a great endorsement of the approach we are investigating to protect our library services for our residents.”
Following this development work, a further report will be brought to the Cabinet in the summer identifying whether it would be in the overall interests of the Council to transfer the Libraries and Archive service to a community benefits society.
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