JOB losses are expected when an arms length management company takes over the running of the borough’s libraries, promising improved technology and community access.
From next month, John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) will begin delivering library services for Harrow and Ealing boroughs and is contracted for five years. A decrease in funding from central government forced Harrow Council’s hand and the changes will make annual savings of £750,000.
The privatisation of the service will mean a reduction in staff, but the council’s portfolio holder for community and cultural services, councillor Nizam Ismail (Independent Labour) said the council will try to help those affected find work elsewhere.
Harrow Council told the Observer that 10 full or part-time roles will be at risk.
Mr Ismail said: “Over the next year library users will see improvements that will make our libraries more accessible and relevant. Unfortunately we will lose some roles as a result. In those cases we will be working with those concerned to try to find opportunities to work elsewhere.”
The upgraded service will include: Wi-Fi in every library, a new library website, investment in online resources, an annual cultural programme and out-of-hours access for community groups.
The libraries will remain open, with the exception of Gayton Library which is set to be merged with the Civic Centre Library from August 25.
Leader of the Labour Group, councillor David Perry (pictured), who spearheaded the plan before Labour’s internal split when Independent Labour took control of the council, said: “As the previous portfolio holder for community and cultural services over the past two years I am proud of the fact that the Labour administration protected library services and kept our libraries open for our residents to enjoy. Despite the difficult financial situation facing the council, the Labour administration has invested in our library service by upgrading IT and computers, and proceeded to install free Wi-Fi.”
The council has set strict targets for the contractor to meet, which include increasing the amount of users and satisfaction rates.
The responsibility of leisure services has been contracted to Sport and Leisure Management Limited.