Changes across Peterborough’s 10 libraries will see 15 people take voluntary redundancy, it has been revealed.
The job losses had been widely expected as part of a new model for the library service in the city, but for the first time an exact number has been given.
I think you have handled this consultation really well considering what we are having to do.Councillor Lisa Forbes
The redundancies are anticipated to cost £120,000-£150,000 but mean nobody will be forced to leave their job.
The figure was revealed by Peterborough City Council cabinet member Councillor Lucia Serluca who addressed councillors on the Strong And Supportive Communities Scrutiny Committee this evening (Thursday, March 19).
The new libraries model, which will save the city council £305,000 a year, will introduce self-service technology into all the libraries.
It will see libraries open for 50 per cent longer with residents able to use self-service technology when staff are not there.
However, the number of hours the libraries are staffed will reduce from 261 to 149.
The new model has been consulted on for the past couple of month with the consultation ending at noon on Friday, March 20.
The council’s cabinet will then vote on the new model a few hours later.
Having spoken extremely positively on the new library plans in the past, it is inconceivable the cabinet will now vote against them.
The savings from the library service have already been agreed by the council as part of its bid to tackle a large budget deficit, although the exact details of the new model were still being consulted on at the time.
Cllr Serluca said: “There will be 15 job losses, but I can say with absolute confidence they have all come from voluntary redundancies.
“I do not want people to lose their jobs. People have lives to lead and mortgages to pay.
“But Vivacity has not had to say to anyone, ‘you are losing your job’.”
Vivacity is the trust which runs libraries in Peterborough.
Cllr Serluca’s response followed questioning from Cllr Lisa Forbes who also told the cabinet member: “I think you have handled this consultation really well considering what we are having to do.”
That view was echoed by Cllr John Fox, who said: “In 13 years at the council this is one of the best consultations I’ve seen.
“You have worked really hard and listened.”
Lisa Roberts, the council’s stategic client manager: culture and leisure, told councillors that up until March 6 the council had received 1,606 responses to its consultation.
Of these, 58 per cent were said to support the proposal.
Some responses to the consultation had suggested closing some of the smaller libraries, but Ms Roberts said: “That would save £55,000 a year but is not appropriate.”
Bretton, Orton, Central and Werrington libraries are to have their own assistant to oversee the new self-service technology, called Open+, during all un-staffed hours.
Concerns were raised by councillors about the safety of these new Open+ assistants when they are on their own and how secure the libraries will be during un-staffed hours.
The new assistants are yet to be appointed.
Ms Roberts said: “There will be live CCTV and audio which can talk to people in the library.
“Risk assessments are in place for lone workers and there are emergency phones.
“Staff are fully trained in what they have to do in certain scenarios. They are also trained in emergency first aid.”
Cllr Serluca added: “When Open+ goes live we will be going in during evenings to check what is going on.
“We will be looking into it and making sure things are running absolutely properly.”
The Open+ technology, which library users will have to sign up for, has so far been trialled in Central and Dogsthorpe libraries.
Assuming the new model is approved by the cabinet, the technology will be introduced in April to Eye, Thorney, Woodston and Bretton libraries.
It will then be introduced in May to Werrington, Orton and Stanground libraries.