Issue - decisions
Leisure, Libraries, Culture
Councillor Angela Davies, Cabinet Member – Transformation, said:
“The role our leisure, library, parks and cultural services play in our residents’ lives cannot be underestimated. They provide vital opportunities for local people to enjoy leisure time with friends and family, to learn and to keep fit and healthy.
We committed to ensuring leisure and cultural opportunities for all when we created our Wirral Plan and I am clear we will do everything in our power to live up to that pledge.
The sheer scale of the financial challenges we face in the coming years make it impossible to avoid changing how these services are provided. We must make sure they are sustainable, affordable, and able to meet the changing needs of our residents. However, we must not rush these decisions, they are important services and we must do everything possible to ensure we get them right.
I am thankful to the many local people who took the time to get involved in our consultation exercise. Hundreds of residents gave up their time to give us their ideas and suggestions for how we might improve and safeguard the services in the future.
This report provides Cabinet with a summary of the feedback we have received, and a commitment to keep working on the areas which we have been given, as we continue to develop the blueprint for a long-term, sustainable model to deliver the services residents need for the future.”
Councillor Angela Davies presented a report which related to the review of Leisure, Libraries, Cultural and Parks Services and provided an update on progress to date and next steps.
In March 2017 Cabinet requested an options appraisal and Full Business Case be developed, informed by a comprehensive stakeholder engagement exercise. This initial decision was called-in by the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee, where the original decision was upheld.
The options being investigated through the business case development included the creation of a Community Interest Company or a Charity to run the services, or redeveloping the services as an in-house operation directly provided by the Council.
Through the work carried out as a part of the engagement process, including feedback from Members of all parties, and the development of the Operating Model it had become apparent that creating one solution – one new company, charity or redesigned in-house service – which would suit the needs of each individual service, might not necessarily deliver the desired results.
They were diverse services; residents needed and expected different things from each of them, and it was vital the Council developed a model which allowed it to fully meet those needs, while keeping the services sustainable and affordable for the long-term. The services currently cost in excess of £17m, employing 950 individual staff.
The report sought approval from Cabinet to explore additional options for each of the individual services in scope, in order to better address the requirements of the review.
Councillor Matthew Patrick expressed his pleasure with the extensive communications and engagement programme which had been carried out and commented upon the need to continue this engagement.
Councillor Phil Davies commented that as a ‘one size fits all’ approach was not an option, there was a need to take more time to get this review right. With the Council’s budget being under huge pressure from Government cuts, discretionary services were under massive pressure. Solutions had to be found to make sure these services could be delivered, there was a need to take on board what residents and stakeholders had said, to continue to talk to Trades Union colleagues and come up with a model which sustained these services.
RESOLVED: That -
(1) the feedback from residents, staff and other stakeholders be noted, and officers be instructed to make contact with everyone who took part in the consultation to thank them for their involvement.
(2) officers provide a report to Cabinet outlining the approach to future service provision in the New Year.