The Cabinet has made the decision to create a network of neighbourhood centres and deliver services in a different way by co-locating them in the same building, to help towards the £150m savings that need to be made by 2020/21. This means that the number of buildings we deliver services from will reduce but the services will still be delivered, though in some cases from a different building than people have been used to using.
The decision comes after a 12 week consultation on a set of proposals and our thanks go to over 7,700 people who shared their views. A number of the proposals were altered following the consultation and your feedback.
The county council has to change its services to make them more affordable. The council is receiving less funding from the Government, while also having to spend more on essential services for vulnerable children and adults because of an increase in demand.
The county council agreed to explore proposals by community groups and other organisations to take on responsibility for running some of the affected buildings and services. We are in the process of making decisions about the proposals received.
Some buildings have not received proposals from community groups or these have not matched the criteria of the council's Community and Asset Transfer (CAT) policy. These buildings are initially being offered to other public sector organisations to consider if they could use the buildings for their own services. Where there has been no interest shown, buildings will be put up for sale. Six former libraries are now up for sale, Barrowford, Earby, Freckleton, Fulwood, Lostock Hall and Whalley.
The deputy leader has made the decision to cease delivering services to children 0-11 years old and families from Upholland Children's Centre and continue to use St John's Children's Centre (Skelmersdale) for delivering services to children 0-11 years old and families. This is based on the feedback we received to our recent consultation. The county council will continue to provide outreach services in the Upholland area, including one-to-one support delivered in family homes, schools and from other community buildings.
The public access buildings the council delivers local services from will become known as neighbourhood centres. This does not mean they will all be the same, but it does mean the council will think differently about how all of these buildings will be used in the future. Neighbourhood centres will become places where different services are located together instead of being used as a base for a single service, such as a library or a children's centre.
Putting more services in one place will be more cost effective as well as helping us to deliver a better, more 'joined-up' service to residents. It will make better use of our buildings while making them more of a focal point for the communities they serve.
When considering the location of neighbourhood centres, we looked at where the need for services is the greatest so that everyone can use the services, albeit sometimes from a different location they have been used to. The resulting location of the neighbourhood centres means that communities have a library service within three miles of where they live and 94% of the most deprived 0-4 year olds have a children's centre within 1.5 miles of their home.
Neighbourhood centres will be equipped to meet the needs of the services provided in them and some will offer increased flexibility such as:
The timescale for change will vary depending upon the individual building. Some buildings will need to be altered internally to accommodate more than one service and this will happen at various times over the next four years. For the buildings which we decided to stop delivering our services from, some have closed at the end of September 2016 and some will need to remain open for longer to allow other buildings to be altered to accommodate other services.
The Council was contacted by the DCMS at the end of September regarding representations it had received relating to the changes to Lancashire’s library service and the Council’s duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 (1964 Act) to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service.
DCMS is treating the representations as a formal complaint under Section 10(1)(a) of the 1964 Act. As part of its consideration of the complaint officials from DCMS met with Lancashire Council officers on 6 December for an initial discussion regarding the background to the recent changes implemented to Lancashire's library service provision. The DCMS has received information, available in the public domain, from the Council relating to the changes to their library service provision and this will be reviewed and together with other representations received will be assessed to provide advice and recommendations to DCMS Ministers as to whether they are minded to order an inquiry or not.
There is no set timescale for consideration of the complaint and it will vary dependent upon a number of factors including the complexity of issues to be addressed and the volume of detail to be analysed. All relevant detail will be carefully considered to enable the Secretary of State to decide whether a local inquiry is necessary to resolve any real doubt about the Council's compliance with its statutory duty under the Act.
We will keep you updated on progress.
Documents that relate to this decision:
Find out more about proposals by community groups and other organisations to take on responsibility for running some of the affected buildings and services.