Questions remain on library reforms

Golborne Library

Golborne Library

Job losses have still not been ruled out ahead of Wigan Council’s library reform plan going before the full council chamber tonight.

Local authority bosses say tweaks to the services will deliver £1.4m of savings and all existing facilities will be saved from the axe.

However, the council has not revealed whether the proposed merging of library and Life Centre staff will trigger redundancies.

The reforms will include encouraging more volunteers to help out at the borough’s 15 locations.

Lesley O’Halloran, assistant director for customer services at Wigan Council said:

“We’re proposing to keep all of our libraries open because we understand the important role they play in our communities.

“Our proposals, which were developed using resident feedback and agreed at last month’s cabinet meeting, aim to transform the service.

“As part of these proposals we will need to review the staffing structure.

“At the moment it’s impossible for us to say what the impact will be, but by merging libraries and customer services together I’m confident opportunities will open up across the service.

“We will continue to work closely with unions and staff to create a service that is efficient and provides the best offer for residents.”

The council has previously said the savings target will be reached in four stages; merging customer service and library staff, inviting community groups into existing library buildings to make “best use of space”, increase volunteer involvement and transferring the home delivery service “to a volunteer model”.

The report presented to tonight’s meeting of the full chamber states “savings will be delivered by integrating staffing structures” but there are no specifics on potential job losses.

Ruling Labour councillors have been bullish about the council’s feat in making significant savings while keeping all facilities open, unlike neighbouring authorities.

Coun Terry Halliwell, cabinet member for service transformation said: “Being a bit smarter about the (library) footprint means we have some opportunities to transform the service.”