Social enterprise will run York’s libraries despite union’s warnings of ‘risk’

Updated in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , Political Reporter

A SOCIAL enterprise is to take over the running of York’s libraries and archives, despite city leaders admitting there are risks.

Plans for a “community benefit society” to operate the libraries have been approved by City of York Council’s cabinet in the first scheme of its kind in the country, as the authority looks to cut costs by £450,000 over three years.

The Explore Libraries And Archives Mutual will be eligible for VAT breaks and will be two-thirds owned by staff, with the public owning the remaining third.

Unions said the current business plan for was “not fit for purpose”, but the council said it was the best option for preventing library closures.

Coun Sonja Crisp, cabinet member for leisure and culture, said she was convinced it was the right move. She said: “Where other cities’ libraries have been abandoned and closed, York’s will go from strength to strength. Of course there are risks – no enterprise proposal is entirely risk-free – but by far the greatest risk would be failing to grasp the moment.”

Andrea Dudding, general convenor for Unison in York, told the cabinet the plans carried “significant financial risks which are being transferred to employees”.

She claimed some financial forecasts, including income targets, were over-optimistic and the mutual plan meant the libraries and archives were effectively being privatised, also raising concerns about how accountable it would be.

The society will have a five-year contract starting next year, with membership of the mutual costing £1. Library membership will remain separate and free.

Comments (5)

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8:58am Thu 18 Jul 13

Zetkin says...

Well done York Labour Party, Milliband must be ever so proud of you, out-doing the Tories & Liberals at privatising anything of value.
Well done York Labour Party, Milliband must be ever so proud of you, out-doing the Tories & Liberals at privatising anything of value. Zetkin
  • Score: 0

11:58am Thu 18 Jul 13

Maquis says...

Sounds like the Labour party are embracing the big society.
Sounds like the Labour party are embracing the big society. Maquis
  • Score: 0

12:44pm Thu 18 Jul 13

perplexed says...

Maquis wrote:
Sounds like the Labour party are embracing the big society.
Which can be more than said of our local Conservative Group. According to Coun Barton 'what Labour is after is off-loading responsibility for the libraries and any possible criticism that goes with the running of them.'
[quote][p][bold]Maquis[/bold] wrote: Sounds like the Labour party are embracing the big society.[/p][/quote]Which can be more than said of our local Conservative Group. According to Coun Barton 'what Labour is after is off-loading responsibility for the libraries and any possible criticism that goes with the running of them.' perplexed
  • Score: 0

5:14pm Thu 18 Jul 13

Despairing Yorkie says...

Bl**dy hell. York Press in "can't even COPY facts from a printed document accurately twice in one edition" shocker. See my comment on the "festival of steam " story and now this. I have some concerns about the viability of the library & archives community benefit society, so I read the council papers. Firstly: all the paranoids who read press stories about the council and comment about what is being "hidden from us" - go and read the original papers online, and you'll see half the time that "what is being hidden" is because The Press can't report accuratly. Or they have no idea what are the important bits of a document to retain when editing it - sometimes I think they just pick paragraphs at random to print, and then randomly insert "phrases" into "inverted commas" tomake then look suspicious.

Secondly - getting basic facts right. The library & archive CBS will be ONE-third owned by the staff and TWO-thirds owned by the public: exactly the opposite of whatthis report says. Again - perhaps it's anoraky detail, but all the press had to do was copy this fact, and they couldn't even do that accurately. So what reliance can we possibly put on their ability to analyse news?

I see that the conservatives and liberals are opposed to this plan. Remind me again what parties are in power in Whitehall, supporting cuts and the transfer of services away from councils? "Trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds" comes to mind - good to know York's liberal and tory councillors have no idea what they stand for.
Bl**dy hell. York Press in "can't even COPY facts from a printed document accurately twice in one edition" shocker. See my comment on the "festival of steam " story and now this. I have some concerns about the viability of the library & archives community benefit society, so I read the council papers. Firstly: all the paranoids who read press stories about the council and comment about what is being "hidden from us" - go and read the original papers online, and you'll see half the time that "what is being hidden" is because The Press can't report accuratly. Or they have no idea what are the important bits of a document to retain when editing it - sometimes I think they just pick paragraphs at random to print, and then randomly insert "phrases" into "inverted commas" tomake then look suspicious. Secondly - getting basic facts right. The library & archive CBS will be ONE-third owned by the staff and TWO-thirds owned by the public: exactly the opposite of whatthis report says. Again - perhaps it's anoraky detail, but all the press had to do was copy this fact, and they couldn't even do that accurately. So what reliance can we possibly put on their ability to analyse news? I see that the conservatives and liberals are opposed to this plan. Remind me again what parties are in power in Whitehall, supporting cuts and the transfer of services away from councils? "Trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds" comes to mind - good to know York's liberal and tory councillors have no idea what they stand for. Despairing Yorkie
  • Score: 1

1:07am Sun 21 Jul 13

anti-rant says...

CoY has a legal obligation to supply some sort of library service to the community. The problem is, the libraries have to pay exorbitant fees for cleaning, maintenance, etc to the council (to fill where if they paid as an independent body, the savings would actually be around what is quoted.
CoY has a legal obligation to supply some sort of library service to the community. The problem is, the libraries have to pay exorbitant fees for cleaning, maintenance, etc to the council (to fill where if they paid as an independent body, the savings would actually be around what is quoted. anti-rant
  • Score: 0

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