Following on from previous communications regarding the Active & Creative Communities and Community Facilities review, the Council at its meeting on 5 October 2023, agreed that the present library, leisure and community facility estates will remain open for at least the remainder of the current term of the council. Decisions previously taken on 28 September 2023 have now been reversed.
If you have any questions, please speak to your line manager in the first instance.
Communication for contracted employees 19.09.2023
As you may be aware, we are currently facing challenging economic circumstances that have necessitated a review of our service.
The Policy and Strategy Committee will consider budget savings within Active and Creative Communities and Facility Support Services (Community Facilities). The report will be published on MARS later today and will be available att101490.pdf (northlanarkshire.gov.uk). It is important to stress at this stage that no decision has been taken and a decision will not be made until considered by Policy and Strategy Committee on 28 September 2023.
This briefing note has been prepared to outline the method of the review, outcomes, staffing affected, proposed recommendations and the next steps contained within the report going to committee for approval.
- Method of Review
It is important to confirm at the outset that the review was data-led and evidence based, taking a co-ordinated approach across services including Active & Creative Communities, Community Facilities (Facility Support Services) and the Hub Team to ensure full consideration of the outcome for communities.
Specifically, the review process followed the previously Council approved scoping criteria for asset review and focused on the following:
- Utilisation – based on actual usage, optimum usage, and space in building.
- Condition – information on condition of building from condition survey information.
- Suitability – factors such as location, accessibility, and suitability of the internal space.
The data driven approach allowed officers to identify and review instances of facilities being underutilised, and to consider how best to promote the remaining estate to enhance provision and provide busy, vibrant centres which are functional and attractive to both communities and partners. The review also provided the opportunity to explore potential alternative uses for underutilised facilities/sites to benefit North Lanarkshire. The potential alternative uses could include community ownership, repurposing, or commercial use.
- Outcomes – ACC Facilities in Scope
Using the factors of utilisation/footfall and condition (with additional factors for Community Libraries as outlined), a total of 19 ACC venues have been identified as in-scope:
- 7 Community Libraries and mobile library services
- 10 Active NL leisure sites
- 2 stand-alone centres
Community Libraries performance is based on service performance and the Council agreed Performance Management Framework for Library Services. This framework is based around the monitored usage, including proximity to the next nearest library and condition of building. Using these overall factors, libraries are ranked on the basis of overall performance.
In general terms, use of Community Libraries has not recovered from the pandemic lockdowns – albeit this is recognised as a trend shown nationally.
In considering the potential future model of a library service in North Lanarkshire and an expectation that changing habits requires a different approach to service provision, it is proposed that future delivery is focused on the eight town centre locations with the addition of Chryston as the centre of the new community hub and a reduced branch provision across North, Central and South areas – namely it is proposed that we retain Condorrat Library, Chapelhall Library and Newmains Library.
The remaining libraries in scope are listed in Appendix One.
The mobile library service is also in scope for consideration. The council currently has three vehicles – two of which are owned, and one is coming to the end of a lease agreement. Unfortunately, the vehicles are prone to mechanical issues – during 2022/23 a total of 260 days were lost across the mobile library service due to the vehicle being unavailable. The cost of replacing all three vehicles is likely to be prohibitive. It is expected that Outreach Services to vulnerable members will continue to be provided.
Subject to approval, it is anticipated that the phased cessation of in scope facilities can be achieved over two years. This will be subject to ongoing consultation and engagement with communities and efforts to deliver on the agreed approach as efficiently as possible will be a key focus. A phased approach to those facilities that are in scope would be proposed to allow the Council to firstly progress those that can be decommissioned quickly with a lower impact on communities and residents, while planning for phase 2 which requires the relocation of facility users to appropriate alternatives. Phase 3 relates to the movement of community facilities to planned hubs with timescales requiring to be aligned to this process. Table 2 provides a breakdown of the number of facilities included in each phase.
Table 2 Phased Approach – Community Libraries
|No. Of Buildings
|Libraries currently not in use or shared by partner group. Mobile Service Provision
|Able to implement quickly
|Libraries with low utilisation/poor condition
|Requirement to find alternative locations for all users
|Libraries with more use by groups or existing lease arrangements (Newmains)
|Requirement to find alternative locations for all users. Consider use of existing estate, wherever possible.
The review of Active NL sites was based primarily on footfall/usage and building condition. As a result of consideration of both, and using technical information associated with condition surveys, a total of 10 leisure sites were identified as in- scope. Details of sites in-scope are held in Appendix One.
In addition, within the leisure estate are 2 stand-alone sites:
Janet Hamilton Centre/Coatbridge Outdoor Sports Centre (COSC) – The COSC has been closed since fire damage in 2019. Partly associated with the fire damage, the Janet Hamilton Centre has been closed since January 2023. This centre is used by one organisation who are currently working from a local community centre. The site is also used by Airdrie & Coatbridge Harriers. While the council is aware that there is a significant community interest in asset transfers, at present, the site is unusable, and a decision requires to be made on its future.
“Old Daisy Park Centre” – this centre was declared surplus by North Lanarkshire Council in 2013 and was transferred to North Lanarkshire Leisure (NLL). With the insourcing of NLL in 2021, the building was returned to the council estate. The site is used by one local charity – efforts will be made to find alternative options to locate this group.
Subject to approval, it is anticipated that the phased cessation of in scope facilities can be achieved over two years. This will be fluid and efforts to deliver on the agreed approach as efficiently as possible will be a key focus. The phased approach to those assets that are in scope would be proposed to allow the Council to firstly progress those that can be made quickly with few barriers to implementation, while planning for phase 2 which requires the relocation of facility users to appropriate alternatives. Phase 3 relates to the movement of community facilities to planned hubs with timescales requiring to be aligned to this process. Table 3 provides a breakdown of the number of facilities included in each phase.
Table 3 Phased Approach – Active NL
|No. Of Buildings
|Centres with low usage. Options available immediately to transfer any users.
|Able to implement quickly
|Centres with low utilisation/poor condition or local alternative site available.
|Requirement to find alternative locations for all users
|Centres where additional consultation with stakeholders may be required.
|Requirement to find alternative locations for all users.
- Staff Affected (Community Libraries and Active NL)
Unfortunately, it is possible that there may be a need for reductions in staff numbers, but full consideration will be given to minimising the numbers of employees affected in line with North Lanarkshire Council’s established Workforce Change Policy and other relevant polices. For any affected staff, we will provide comprehensive support and assistance. Measures that may be identified that may assist affected employees include offering alternative employment elsewhere within North Lanarkshire Council re-training employees or voluntary redundancy severance.
Indicatively, we expect up to approximately 99.5 FTE employees will be affected by these proposals. It is anticipated that, subject to approval by Committee, managers will speak to all staff concerned upon the likely impact of the committee decision and discuss what next steps require to be taken. It is anticipated that the service will be able to manage this through vacancy control, redeployment, and voluntary redundancy in accordance with the Council’s managing workforce change policies and procedures. Trade Unions will also be fully consulted and engaged as part of the process.
- Next Steps
The Policy & Strategy report will be published on MARS on Tuesday 19 September 2023. For anyone unable to access the report online, please speak to your manager in the first instance.
In addition, managers will make direct contact with staff directly affected and explain what will happen once a decision is made. We will keep you updated as the situation progresses, and information and a rolling FAQ will be available at:
Any questions or concerns can be directed to your line manager and ActiveandCreativeCommunities@northlan.gov.uk (to allow the rolling FAQ to be maintained).
If you require any further information, please don’t hesitate to contact me on email@example.com.
Communication for casual employees 19.09.2023
As you may be aware, we are currently facing challenging economic circumstances that have necessitated a review of our services.
As part of this process, the Policy and Strategy committee will consider budget savings within Active and Creative Communities and Facility Support Services (Community Facilities). The report outlining the proposals will be published on MARS later today and will be available att101490.pdf (northlanarkshire.gov.uk). It is important to stress that at this stage no decision has been taken and will not be made until considered by Policy and Strategy Committee on 28 September 2023.
From the report you will see one possible outcome may be the closure of some venues within our authority. Unfortunately, it is possible that this may impact on the availability of casual work.
We are committed to open and transparent communication throughout this process and have informed the signatory Trade Unions of the budget savings that will be considered and will carry out all statutory consultation as necessary.
The significance of venues to our communities is fully understood and all possible alternatives have been considered and are being explored.
We understand that this news may be concerning for you. Please know that we are fully committed to supporting our staff and maintaining our commitment to delivering quality cultural and leisure services to North Lanarkshire.
We will keep you updated as the situation progresses and information is available: https://mynl.co.uk/knowledge-base/active-creative-communities-rolling-faq/.
Any questions or concerns can be directed to your line manager and ActiveandCreativeCommunities@northlan.gov.uk which will allow a rolling FAQ to be maintained.
Active & Creative Communities Manager
Appendix One – Active & Creative Communities – Facilities in Scope
New Stevenson Library
Viewpark Library Mobile Libraries
Birkenshaw Sports Barn
Ian Nicholson Centre
John Smith Pool
Keir Hardie Sports Centre
Lochview Golf Course
Palacerigg Golf Course
Sir Matt Busby Sports Centre
Shotts Leisure Centre
Janet Hamilton Centre/COSC
Old Daisy Park Centre