Bembridge Library Users Group Disappointed With Council Negotiations

Bembridge Library Users Group provide an update on discussions with the IWC

Thanks to Richard Beet for this update from the The Bembridge Library Users Group (BLUG). Some fascinating information has come out of the group’s discussions with the Isle of Wight council. Well worth a read for anyone concerned about library closures. Ed

Keith FaganThe Bembridge Library Users Group (BLUG) is currently talking to Isle of Wight Council on a number of issues that affect the future of the library service in Bembridge.

In our talks with the four other Island library groups, we were able to highlight common topics as well as to share and provide information.

Priority to retain salaried professionals
Our first priority is to retain the existing library building staffed by salaried professionals.

IWC has already made savings at Bembridge by reducing hours, so we believe that by supporting existing staff and identifying new revenue streams, we could help IWC balance the budget for this well-used and highly popular library.

The legal challenge
Our best chance of retaining the library is to legally prevent the IWC from closing it and selling the site for redevelopment.

This is why our first priority is to support the legal challenge being prepared by Friends of the Isle of Wight Library Service who are working to serve an injunction on IWC.

Employment legislation
We understand that because IWC is cutting jobs, not just within the library service, but also across the whole organisation, any reinstatement of a service, either by paid staff, or by volunteers, would come under the scope of legislation known as TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations).

This would mean that any staff dismissed by the council would have recourse to demand reinstatement of their pay and pension from anyone effectively taking on their job, wherever it is located. That would place members of our group and volunteers in a very vulnerable position and as a result we have given Isle of Wight Council until Monday 18 April to come up with a legally enforceable written indemnity against liability.

If IWC is unable to provide this guarantee, then we would have no option but to walk away from the bid.

Lease
A new draft 25-year lease on a full repairing basis is currently being drawn up by IWC.

As we have neither the desire nor funds to take on the lease, we believe Bembridge Parish Council would be in the best position to become the leaseholder, and grant licences to both the Library and the Heritage Centre to operate.

Details of the draft lease are not yet available, although the next full Parish Council meeting open to public and press will be held on Tuesday 19 April where this issue will be discussed.

Diversity Impact Assessment (DIA)
Despite initially agreeing with the IWC to cooperate with its requirement to carry out a Diversity Impact Assessment (DIA), in the light of new information presented to us, as well as legal advice, we have decided to withdraw our cooperation as we are not willing to prejudice our position on the planned closure of the library.

Following our decision, other groups have taken the same action. The IWC has had a year to carry out these assessments and at the 11th hour was attempting to pass the responsibility to individuals and embryo groups with little time and no experience of these procedures.

Bembridge Heritage Centre
By retaining the library at its current location, we would also provide security for another of the village’s valuable resources, the Bembridge Heritage Centre.

If IWC were to force the existing library out of the building, the Heritage Centre would no longer be able to operate.

Conclusion
We are disappointed that despite a massive effort put by our members to advance negotiations with the IOW council we regret to report that we are no further forward and that IWC remains resolutely determined to close the library at the end of June.

BLUG is still resolved to provide a library management group for Bembridge. However, given the distinct lack of progress, through no fault of ours, there is a very real danger that we will have to walk away and pass responsibility back to the IOW council.

Keith Fagan (Chairman BLUG)
Peter Pickworth
Richard Beet
Neil Thomas
(Steering Group Committee Members)

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17 Comments on "Bembridge Library Users Group Disappointed With Council Negotiations"

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Asite2c

The council are probably making life difficult for volunteers and communities to take over the running of public services as they hypocritically would prefer to close them down for good. After all this was their original idea.

keithybaby

I think the IWC had not thought through their proposals and have been surprised by the strength of public feeling and action against cuts to the library service. They should have been well aware of such issues as the transfer of undertakings, after all they have a legal department. The words ‘Bull’ and ‘China Shop’ come to mind.

daveq
Thought through their proposals? That’s totally against their principals- take Roads PFI and now the County Hall refurbishment (only going to cost over twice their estimate without inflation!). This council think up ideas that are going to do the most harm to Island residents, then implement them knowing that most of them will be on the political scrap heap after the next election and somebody else will… Read more »
playingthenumbers

Annex A – Position statement (job substitution) from the Library Association’s own guidelines on involving volunteers might also have provided an opportunity for sob reflection too.

Presumably the IWC are in possession of the official guidelines, have read them & transmitted the contents to the voluntary groups?

playingthenumbers

That was sober reflection

L Pinkerton

It’ll be a personal thing because the area didn’t vote for the Pugh-Party. Too much Bacon.

rosie

the council are holding communities to ransom, in brighstone the toilets were to be demolished unless the parish took them over, which they didnt want to do , however once gone, gone for ever, the fear now is that the library will have the same fate, is this because it stands on a plot worth money….

daveq
I am very pleased to see that the intransigence at County Hall has been very neatly thrown back at them. Well done Bembridge Library User Group, its a pity that some other other groups have not realised that they are being bambozzled into a trap by the IWC. No names, but one group cannot see beyond their own urge to have more influence, and as a result… Read more »
docile denny

Might that be Niton then?

daveq

Not the group that I wasreferring to- they have already added £15,000 to this years council tax without even knowing if they will actually take over the library. Need any more clues?

docile denny

Oh yes please Dave, I like this game.

daveq

Okay, I’m also up for a bit of fun, its NOT West Cowes!

docile denny
Got you! I hear there is also a town council who are going to take on running a library. Don’t believe they have the powers to do this at the moment. Same library I believe as the one you mentioned earlier and its not WEST Cowes. Town and Parish Council can only take on library service if they have the power of well-being and no council on… Read more »
Asite2c
If the Tory members of the IOW Council wish to preach this big society rubbish, then they should be happy and agree to perform these tasks. 1.Allow the public to use the toilets in their homes. 2.Provide free transport for the elderly by driving them to any destination on the Island in their cars. 3.Volunteer to work in community led libraries. (I can remember Pugh saying he… Read more »
Steephill Jack

In some ways it’s a good thing that there are smart people ready to spend their free time trying to pick up the mess that the County Council dumps on them.
On the other, it’s a sad thing that there appears to be such a lack of smart people on the Council, or employed by them at managerial levels.
What are we paying for ?

Black Dog

Well said Steephill Jack. This highlights the fact that the Isle of Wight Council’s consultation took place in their minds and the public consultation was used for recycled toilet paper at county hall so they could maintain green island status

Wake up Islanders get together and demand an Island wide referendum

daveq

I have, this morning, issued a challenge to the IWC to hold a referendum both on PFI and County Hall refurbishment- I hope Sally & Simon will put it on VB.Copies have gone to every IWC member!