Local people have until Friday, 17 May to tell the council what they think about proposals for Ealing’s libraries and children’s centres.
The consultation questionnaire can be filled in online or paper copies are available in libraries and children’s centres. So far, the council has received more than 1000 responses to each of the consultations.
Since 2010, Ealing has lost £143million from its government grant; a reduction of 64% and greater than the London and national average. This means that for every pound in government funding it used to receive, it now gets just 36p. By 2021, its government funding will disappear and it will have to fund its services solely through council tax, business rates, fees, charges and commercial income. At the same time, demand for services is higher than it has ever been.
To help meet its financial pressures, the council has proposed to convert seven of its 13 libraries into community managed libraries, run by local groups and staffed by volunteers. The remaining six will continue to be directly operated by the council.
The council has held public meetings in each of the library affected libraries, as well as a special event for groups interested in running a library and drop-in sessions for people interested in volunteering. More than 330 people have come along to the sessions so far. There are three more drop-in sessions scheduled for the coming weeks at Wood End, Greenford and Perivale libraries. Full details of the sessions are available online.
Children’s centres could also change. Ealing currently has 27 children’s centres; seven main centres and 20 smaller linked sites. It proposes moving to a new model of delivering its early intervention and support services from 16 centres. Services could remain the same at its seven main children’s centres and will either stay the same or be enhanced at nine of the remaining 20 linked sites.
The early years services will be reconfigured and reduced at the remaining 11 sites, although services provided by others, such as childcare and early education, will continue and possibly be expanded in some cases to meet local needs. Early health services will also continue to be delivered from some sites. It is possible that a small number of the linked centres could close, however the council will work with its partners to maintain services wherever possible. If the changes go ahead, Ealing would still have more children’s centres than most other London boroughs.
Tony Clements, executive director for place said: “Ealing is facing its toughest financial challenges in living memory and we have some difficult decisions to make.
“Quite rightly, residents have been putting our proposals under the microscope since February and council officers have appreciated the opportunity to meet people face to face and explain our thinking. We also held a well-attended event for groups interested in finding out more about how community managed libraries could work in Ealing. If you haven’t already, please find out more about our proposals and make sure that you take the opportunity to have your say.”
Judith Finlay, executive director for children, adults and public health, said: “These services are important, so it’s crucial that we hear from as many local people as possible. I am delighted that so many have filled in the consultation forms and come to our meetings and there is still time for those who haven’t had an opportunity yet.
“The consultation will close on 17 May so there are only a few weeks left to have your say. I encourage as many people as possible to go online or pick up a paper copy and let us know what they think.”
Ideas on how to get involved in local groups and projects can be found on www.dosomethinggood.org.uk.