Wrexham Council are looking to South Wales to enable trust management of local libraries, saying it is a better alternative than a new local trust or closure.
Readers have already seen some leisure services spun out to trusts, with Plas Madoc being one of the more high profile instances. Several other areas of Council services are still up for review, with it now being proposed that the libraries are likely to be transferred to a trust in South Wales.
The portfolio that would be included in any transfer includes:
- The 10 libraries currently operated by the Library Service (Brynteg, Cefn Mawr, Chirk, Coedpoeth, Gwersyllt, Llay, Overton, Ruabon, Rhos and Wrexham) plus
the mobile library, Homelink service and bibliographic services unit.
- Community resource centres which are managed by the Library Service :
Acton, Brynteg Memorial Centre, Gwersyllt and Plas Pentwyn in Coedpoeth. In
addition, the Llay Park Resources Centre, which is currently managed by Youth
Services, is included in the portfolio (and the delivery of youth provision will
continue via the centre).
Councillor Hugh Jones explained that 42 libraries across Wales have closed or been transferred, with 29 closed completely.
He said: “We are dealing with this in Wrexham in a different and more positive way. We started the process 18 months ago to transfer services to a trust. This will enable libraries to flourish.
“Rather than reinventing the wheel we are identifying existing trusts we can link in with.”
With the likely concern over the South Wales element, he said: “Although the trusts are based in South Wales, the day to day management and running will remain local.
Wrexham Council say: “Having considered all the options, the Council is seeking to negotiate with two existing trust that have been established recently within Wales: the Life Leisure Trust (Blaenau Gwent) and the Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust.
“Informal discussions indicate that it is possible that Wrexham’s Library Services could join one of these trusts providing negotiations on the terms of membership were successful.
“The Council has concluded that joining another trust is the quicker route and there are considerably less costs than the establishment of a new local NPDO/trust for Wrexham Libraries.
“The option of which trust to join (Life Leisure Trust or Merthyr Tydfil Leisure Trust) will depend on the negotiation process and whether one or other of these trusts is willing to allow membership by our libraries. The Council will consult with the public on the final option.
Details were given by the Council saying: “Amongst the options considered have been the establishment of a new non-profit distributing organisation, inclusion with Leisure Services and soft marketing testing has been carried out to ascertain whether there is external interest in managing our libraries.
“The Council will continue to remain responsible for the discharge of its statutory
responsibility and any option for future provision will need to ensure that the Council does not fail in its legal duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service.”
Councillor Jones said: “This is a positive story compared to some library services in parts of Wales.”
On Tuesday Councillors will be asked to back plans for formal negotiations and due diligence, and if they are successful to then look to come back in March for the final green light for a preferred plan.
You can read the report to be presented on Tuesday by clicking here, which notes ‘The matter has not been considered by a Scrutiny Committee’.