Council To Take Back Managing Chiswick Library

Ending contract with Carillion at short notice


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Carillion will no longer managing Chiswick Library following a decision by Hounslow Council to bring library services back under its own control in an unexpected move. Hounslow Council say there is no threat that any of the borough's libraries may close during the transfer or in the future.

Hounslow has had a private company running its library services for longer than any council in the UK. Carillion purchased the Hounslow contract from Laing as part of a £65m deal to take over John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) in 2013.

chiswick library

Councillor Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Green Policy and Leisure, Hounslow Council said, “The council is ending the contract for library services by mutual agreement with Carillion. Responsibility for the library service will transfer back to the Council on Tuesday 1 August.

"We believe that by bringing this back in-house, we can further improve what is a very valuable service for our residents and integrate this across our wider leisure and cultural services. "

Over the next three weeks, the Leisure team will work closely with various council departments to transfer the service in-house. The Council says that service to the public will not change, and there are no plans to close any of the libraries during the transfer.

Local councillors are still frustrated that there has been no progress to their demand to modernise the Dukes Avenue building, which is lacking in disabled access. It is on three levels with the upper floor where Reference and Local Studies are located, only accessible by stairs.

Talks about modernising the Chiswick Library have been going on for fifteen years. A plan to use former S106 money for a modernisation project was never realised, and local councillors failed in 2015 to win support for earmarking £1 million in the Council budget. Local MP Ruth Cadbury clashed with councillors on the issue of the library in Chiswick.

Cllr John Todd has expressed reservations about the plan to manage Chiswick Library 'in house'.

He commented; " If bringing in house means transferring the management of the contract to Lampton 360 Ltd then as a member that causes me concern. Our oversight of this venture is limited. Performance data is minuscule and by way of example senior staffs salary is not published. New staff do not join the councils LGPS pension scheme but a separate DC scheme."

He said councillors would continue to monitor the matter closely.

Hounslow Council, which is seeking to make £2.3 m funding cuts ( 13% of its budget) in its Leisure and Culture budget, has a vision for a modern library strategy in which libraries generate income, either renting out unused space to small workplace companies, installing coffee shops or becoming more like community hubs. It wants to upgrade digital facilities, provide more e-books and have a 'virtual library' as a key objective. They also want to encourage the use of volunteers.

The Councils Leisure and Culture Strategy Consultation 2016-2020 states "in the revised strategy is to find ways of funding, investing in and getting an income from libraries to support the service in the long-term.

An estimated 380,000 people used Chiswick Library per year, The building was originally a residential property converted to a library use with a late 1930’s extension.

July 20, 2017

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