Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall, Oxford, OX1 1ND

Contact: Sue Whitehead  Tel: (01865) 810262; E-Mail:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Councillor Rodney Rose.


Declarations of Interest

- guidance note opposite


Councillor Mitchell declared a personal interest as a member of the Friends of Adderbury Library.


Counciilor Heathcoat indicated that as the relevant Cabinet Member she would not speak at all on Faringdon library which was in her Division.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2011 (CA3 to be circulated separately) and to receive information arising from them.


The minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2011 were received. It was noted that they would be considered for approval at the next meeting on 20 December 2011.


Petitions and Public Address pdf icon PDF 41 KB

Members of the public or individuals representing groups can request to present a petition to or speak on the libraries at this meeting if they give advance notice by 9.00 am on Friday 9 December. However as there is likely to be a great deal of interest it would be helpful if any requests were received by the end of Wednesday 7 December. Requests can be made to the Committee/Contact Officer named on the front of the agenda or through the web site:


Before the meeting, any requests received will be considered by the Chairman of the meeting. If your request is agreed, you will be allowed to speak for no more than five minutes (three minutes for a petition). This time limit may have to be reduced or you may be asked to group with others making similar points dependent on the number of people wanting to speak. Speakers are expected to keep to the subject, avoid using offensive or abusive language, and to keep to time.



Cabinet noted that a petition had been received from the Friends of Benson Library and circulated in advance to Cabinet Members.


It was noted that Councillor Lawrie Stratford as Chairman of the Safer & Stronger Communities Scrutiny Committee would address the meeting on the outcome of the Scrutiny meeting.


The following requests to address the meeting had been agreed:


Item 6 - Meryl Smith (ORCC)

Cllr John Goddard Shadow Cabinet Member

Lynne Pointer (Bampton)

Cllr Neil Owen (Charlbury)

Mrs Nicollette Lethbridge (Charlbury)

Cllr David Turner (Chalgrove)

Arthur Hollis (Goring)

Dr Reavill (Goring)

Cllr Zoe Patrick (Grove & Wantage)

Cllr Altaf-Khan (Headington & Marston)

Cllr Roy Darke  (Headington & Marston)

Paula Coombs (Old Marston)

Sylvia Vetta (Kennington)

Mrs Caroline Ryan (Stonesfield)

Cllr Jean Fooks (Summertown & Wolvercote

Phillip Pinney (Watlington)

Cllr Anne Purse (Wheatley)

Vicky Jordan, (OWL, Woodcote)

Cllr Ian Hudspeth (Woodstock)


Proposals for the Future of the Library Service pdf icon PDF 106 KB

Cabinet Member: Safer & Stronger Communities

Forward Plan Ref: 2011/172

Contact: Alexandra Bailey, Corporate Performance & Review Manager Tel: (01865) 816384; Karen Warren, Acting County Librarian Tel: (01865) 323580


Report by Director for Social & Community Services.


To consider the report on the outcomes of the public consultation on the future of the library service and agree the way forward.


The same report will have been considered by the Safer & Stronger Communities Scrutiny Committee, and their views will be presented to the meeting by the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee.


The Cabinet is RECOMMENDED to accept the proposals outlined in this report:


(a)         The County Council will fully fund and resource all of the libraries that form part of our comprehensive and efficient library service.  These core libraries are:


         Abingdon, Banbury, Berinsfield, Bicester, Blackbird Leys, Botley, Carterton, Chipping Norton, Cowley, Didcot, Eynsham, Headington, Henley, Kidlington, Littlemore, Neithrop, Oxford Central, Summertown, Thame, Wallingford, Wantage and Witney


(b)         The County Council will continue to provide a fully supported infrastructure (building, ICT, book stock and the installation of self-service facilities) to those libraries which fall outside of our comprehensive and efficient library service.  The Council will also work with each of these libraries to establish a Friends Group to enable a shift in the balance of staffing in these libraries towards volunteers over a three-year period. 


(1)                                             For Community Plus libraries, this would mean one third volunteers and two thirds paid staff.


                        These libraries are:


                        Chinnor, Faringdon, Grove, Wheatley and Woodstock


(2)                                             For Community Libraries this would mean one half volunteers and one half  paid staff.


                        These libraries are:


         Adderbury, Bampton, Benson, Burford, Charlbury, Deddington, Goring, Hook Norton, Kennington, North Leigh, Old Marston, Sonning Common, Stonesfield, Watlington, Woodcote and Wychwood


(c)     The Council will review the Quantitative Analysis of Service Requirements every four years, or earlier if deemed appropriate.


Additional documents:


Cabinet considered the report on the outcomes of the public consultation on the future of the library service. The same report was considered by the Safer & Stronger Communities Scrutiny Committee.


Councillor Lawrie Stratford, Chairman of the Safer & Stronger Communities Scrutiny Committee presented the views of that meeting. He commented that the Committee had heard from 6 members of the public and 2 councillors. Amongst the main points raised were the following:


Dependence on volunteers

  • Fear there could be a lack of volunteers to be found
  • Volunteers’ skills, need for extensive training
  • Lone working concerns
  • Friends of libraries groups already stretched



  • Criteria based on need, current usage not taken into account
  • Rural bias in the methodology used to assess the requirements of the library service
  • Smaller libraries affected disproportionately
  • Cuts should be evenly distributed across all libraries
  • Not sufficient account taken of proposed housing growth


Costs and funding

  • Benchmarking of service costs against other authorities
  • Savings difficult to deliver


He noted that the Committee had heard a detailed case from the officers and the Cabinet Member for Safer & Stronger Communities. The Committee had thanked officers and the Cabinet Member for their work throughout the consultation and were appreciative that local issues had been heard and responded to. The Scrutiny Committee welcomed that all libraries were to remain open and that in Community libraries the balance of paid staff to volunteers had been increased to half and half. The Scrutiny Committee had also welcomed the review in 4 years or earlier if appropriate as made clear in the recommendations. He concluded that at the end of the debate most members had been satisfied that concerns had been met and supported the recommendations before the Cabinet.


Ms Meryl Smith, ORCC, in welcoming the revised approach, which avoided library closures, commented that it would still be a significant challenge particularly for the rural areas. There would be a need for volunteers and for support for the local communities. Her organisation was available to support the efforts of the local Friends’ Groups, local communities and the local authority. Responding to a statement from Councillor Couchman that the ORCC had particular skills in finding volunteers Ms Smith agreed that new volunteers would be needed.


Councillor John Goddard, Shadow Cabinet Member for Safer & Stronger Communities commended the work done over the past year and particularly the diligent, courteous and thoughtful approach of Councillor Judith Heathcoat. He recognised that the current position was a massive shift from the original proposals and outlined what he saw as the reasons for this including the outpouring of public support for libraries. He believed that the concern about the lack of volunteers was overstated and that sufficient people would come forward. He welcomed that the Council would work with each particular library. He still had concerns about lone working and stressed the need for instant access to advice and support. The report recommendations generally reflected a good position which he had supported at the Scrutiny Committee meeting. Councillor Judith Heathcoat replied  ...  view the full minutes text for item 141/11