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Libraries – Local Studies (£30,000)

Future Funds

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This represents half the existing funding, how the service will actually be delivered in a relocated central library is yet to be fully developed but  it will have less open access than current facilities and may well involve appointment system for certain information.

[Reference: Cabinet papers, Item 6, paragraph 52(f)]

Let us have your views by filling in the Darlington Library Service Survey - Closed

The online library survey has been available for a six-week period and has now closed so we can collate the responses and feed them into the consultation process. Further comments are still welcome until 31 May 2016. You can send your comments via email to [email protected] or you can complete the budget proposals online form.

Official Copy Of Statutory Declaration [PDF Document]

Library Service Proposals [PDF Document]

Related FAQs

All the books from the library / libraries won’t fit in the Dolphin Centre.

All the books from the library / libraries won’t fit in the Dolphin Centre.

The proposed public floor space in the Dolphin Centre is comparable to what we have now at Crown Street and we will provide appropriate storage for the books not on display. 

Has the Council looked at ways buildings or services could be looked after by local groups?

Has the Council looked at ways buildings or services could be looked after by local groups?

We appreciate that there might well be groups willing to take over running buildings or services. While it is important that they are aware of the costs and responsibilities they would take on, we would be very happy to receive proposals. Unfortunately the speed of the spending reductions mean that the Council does not have the time to work with groups over any length of time so proposals need to be firmed up quite soon. 

You blame Govt cuts but other towns/cities still have libraries and arts centres – is this a case of financial mismanagement?

You blame Govt cuts but other towns/cities still have libraries and arts centres – is this a case of financial mismanagement?

Darlington has always been regarded by our external auditors as good at financial management, this is not the reason we are facing such high levels of cuts. Other councils will also be announcing cuts over the coming months and years. The level of cuts required as a result of Government grant cuts vary depending on many factors, but generally deprived areas have been hit worse. Also, other councils have higher Council Taxes than Darlington so have more revenue from that source than us, so their cuts will be less.

Who actually owns Crown Street Library?

Who actually owns Crown Street Library?

The Council owns the building.

How much would it cost to save the library and the indoor market?

How much would it cost to save the library and the indoor market?

The market is not under threat of closure, so there is no single figure available to save it. With input from traders, the Council is looking for a partner to invest in and improve the market. The relocation of the central library from Crown Street reduces spending by £300,000, so if the relocation does not happen the Council would need to find alternative savings to balance the budget.

Why keep the Dolphin Centre – more people would want to save the library and market first?

Why keep the Dolphin Centre – more people would want to save the library and market first?

Unfortunately the lack of funding means the Council must take some very tough decisions and they have proposed that keeping the Dolphin Centre is important to the borough and it can be kept open at the same time as maintaining a town centre library. In terms of the market, as stated earlier it is not closing. It is hoped the recent announcement – that the Council is working with traders to identify a partner to take over the management of the market – will put an end to incorrect speculation that it will close. Closure of the Dolphin Centre would have a significant impact on the Council’s ability to narrow the health gap as a significant proportion of the population use the Dolphin Centre on a regular basis. You can, of course, suggest an alternative to be considered.

Has a full options appraisal been carried out to review how the library service could be made sustainable? If not, why not?

Has a full options appraisal been carried out to review how the library service could be made sustainable? If not, why not?

In 2011/12, the Council did carry out an options appraisal for the Library service, which considered a number of proposals:

1)              Remaining in current location

2a)          Remaining in current location but half time at Cockerton

2b)         Close Cockerton and operate from Crown Street only

3a)          Keep Cockerton and move Crown Street operation to Central Hall

3b)         Close Cockerton and move Crown Street operation to Central Hall

4a)          Keep Cockerton and move Crown Street operation to the Town Hall

4b)         Close Cockerton and move Crown Street operation to the Town Hall

Cabinet considered these options on 22 February 2012 and agreed to note budget reductions in the service of £242,000 through consolidation of management and operational restructure, reducing opening hours at Cockerton from 50 to 28, and further explore opportunities for savings beyond 2013/14.  The current approach adopted by Cabinet in responding to its financial challenge is to look at producing a core offer budget being what we believe to be a budget that meets our legal obligations, the Core Offer budget includes Crown Street library.  As part of Cabinet’s considerations of how to utilise the £2.5m futures fund they decided to include the Dolphin Centre.  The cost of the library and the Dolphin Centre overall could be reduced by £300,000 by relocating the library to the Dolphin Centre therefore this is judged to be the most cost effective model for the 2 services.

In addition you will be aware we have worked with various organisations to try and deliver a volunteer based library service at Cockerton unfortunately without success.

Has a full options appraisal been carried out to review how the Dolphin Centre could be made sustainable, which includes an option that doesn't include re-locating the library? If not, why not?

Has a full options appraisal been carried out to review how the Dolphin Centre could be made sustainable, which includes an option that doesn't include re-locating the library? If not, why not?

The Dolphin Centre has been subject to a number of reviews leading to significant reductions in operating costs in previous budget rounds.   A full option appraisal was carried out in 2012 considering the establishment of a Trust, working with other Councils and the private sector and the result of this was to continue to operate in house and continue to look for other options to reduce net costs.

What are the estimated relocation and capital costs of putting the library in the Dolphin Centre? How is it proposed this is funded?  From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds?

What are the estimated relocation and capital costs of putting the library in the Dolphin Centre? How is it proposed this is funded?  From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds?

The estimated cost of relocation of the Library is £1.1m this amount allows for the structural changes required and full fit out of the library.  We intend to produce a mixture of modern vibrant areas together with more traditional elements hopefully recycling some of the elements of Crown Street into the latter. There is an additional amount included in the MTFP of £600,000 to replace plant and equipment in the Dolphin Centre which will be undertaken at the same time to remove the need for more interruption to provision at another time.  The £1.7m is to be funded by prudential borrowing and will be repaid from within the Library and Dolphin Centre budgets and this repayment is taken into account when calculating the savings from the relocation of the library.

What are the estimated relocation costs and the annual storage costs for moving both the Borough art collection and the Borough archive? How is it proposed this is funded? From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds?

What are the estimated relocation costs and the annual storage costs for moving both the Borough art collection and the Borough archive? How is it proposed this is funded? From receipts of the sale of Cockerton and/or Crown Street or general funds?

The costs of storage of the Art Collection and the archive are included in the existing Dolphin/Library budget.  Relocation costs are not yet finalised.

What is the estimated valuation for the sale of Crown Street Library?

What is the estimated valuation for the sale of Crown Street Library?

Clearly the market will decide the exact value of the assets however due to the costs of conversion etc. we do not expect the receipt to be significant in terms of the Council’s overall budget position 

What is the estimated valuation for the sale of Cockerton Library?

What is the estimated valuation for the sale of Cockerton Library?

Again the market will ultimately determine the value and like Crown Street we do not see the level of receipt as significant in terms of the overall budget position.

When will it be decided if there will be a replacement art gallery?

When will it be decided if there will be a replacement art gallery?

There has been no decision taken yet on how or if the Art Gallery will be re provided.  We are looking at options and are keen to work with you to find solutions.

The Cabinet papers suggest the children's library will be bigger, is this right? Does this mean that all other parts of the library will be smaller as a result?

The Cabinet papers suggest the children's library will be bigger, is this right? Does this mean that all other parts of the library will be smaller as a result?

Draft designs are not yet complete and we are looking at a number of new options and once complete we will be keen to share them with you and others to get your views. 

Will the library have at least the same number of computers that are currently in both Cockerton and Crown Street combined, so people can access these to apply for work and benefits?

Will the library have at least the same number of computers that are currently in both Cockerton and Crown Street combined, so people can access these to apply for work and benefits?

The ICT offer within the Library service will be reviewed and modernised in line with best practice and the intention is to provide at least the same number of work stations as there currently is across the Library service.  However, again, the detail is still being worked on.  

Have you undertaken an impact assessment of closing the mobile library service on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups? If yes, please can you provide a copy? If not, why not?

Have you undertaken an impact assessment of closing the mobile library service on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups? If yes, please can you provide a copy? If not, why not?

An Impact Assessment will be carried out following the completion of the Library survey and will be available for Cabinet to consider prior to making any final decision on the Library Service.  

What is the legal basis for considering that one library constitutes a 'comprehensive library service'? Has an appraisal been undertaken about whether this would leave you open to legal challenge?

What is the legal basis for considering that one library constitutes a 'comprehensive library service'? Has an appraisal been undertaken about whether this would leave you open to legal challenge?

Currently the Council is consulting on its proposals for the Library service and alongside this a survey is being circulated for users and non-users to complete, which will help inform any final decision.  The Library Needs Assessment will be presented to Cabinet before they make their final decision.  

We understand from the Land Registry that Darlington Borough Council has lost the covenant placed on Crown Street Library. When was it lost?

We understand from the Land Registry that Darlington Borough Council has lost the covenant placed on Crown Street Library. When was it lost?

We understand that the deeds and documents were lost in or about March 1974.  Further details are set out in the statutory declaration of Alan Thornthwaite Carling (formerly the Assistant Borough Solicitor to Darlington Borough Council), on 22 December 1983.  

Do Darlington Borough Council know what the covenant related to Crown Street Library said?

Do Darlington Borough Council know what the covenant related to Crown Street Library said?

The library opened in 1885 following a bequest in the will of Edward Pease.

Although we do not have the original records, it may well have been the case that the property was subject to a restrictive covenant. We understand that the deeds and documents were lost in or about March 1974, most probably during local government reorganisation with Durham County Council.

In 1983 statutory declaration was made by a former Assistant Borough Solicitor about the loss of deeds that occurred in 1974. This indicated that in 1983 the property was thought to be subject to a restrictive covenant that it should be ‘used for purposes of a public library forever. 

Land Registry records show the Council as the freehold owner, but there is reference made to lost deeds and documents and that restrictive covenants imposed before 9 September 2010 are still enforceable.

If there is a restrictive covenant concerning the Crown Street Building this does not prevent the library service from relocating to another building. It could however restrict the future use of Crown Street although there are steps that can be taken to have any restrictive covenant discharged.

A copy of the Statutory Declaration is available on the relateted proposal pages.

Our understanding is that there is a signed affidavit by the then Borough solicitor of Darlington Borough Council that was written at the time the covenant for Crown Street Library was found to be lost and that this affidavit states the covenant existed and what was in it. Is this true? 

Our understanding is that there is a signed affidavit by the then Borough solicitor of Darlington Borough Council that was written at the time the covenant for Crown Street Library was found to be lost and that this affidavit states the covenant existed and what was in it. Is this true? 

The document you refer to is a statutory declaration by Alan Thornthwaite Carling, at the time the Assistant Borough Solicitor to Darlington Borough Council, on 22 December 1983.  

How are discussions going with the Pease family? Have they had chance to see if they have got a copy of the covenant?

How are discussions going with the Pease family? Have they had chance to see if they have got a copy of the covenant?

We have contacted the Pease Family and they are reviewing their records to see if they have any documents that will be of assistance.

Are you any further forward in identifying where the borough collection and archives are going to be stored?

Are you any further forward in identifying where the borough collection and archives are going to be stored?

Further work is taking place with regard to suitable and appropriate locations for storing the Borough Collection and Archive.  However our working assumption is that they can be accommodated within the Dolphin Centre and other Council buildings.  

Would you be willing to consider transferring the Crown Street Library building to a heritage organisation (such as the National Trust or English Heritage) or a community organisation?

Would you be willing to consider transferring the Crown Street Library building to a heritage organisation (such as the National Trust or English Heritage) or a community organisation?

It is our intention to market the building, however should any such options be forthcoming the Council would consider them.

Why are you closing Crown Street Library?

Why are you closing Crown Street Library?

The Council has a duty to provide a library service and we will continue to do so. Our proposals include relocating the library service to a remodelled Dolphin Centre, which will deliver efficiencies, reducing the costs of the Central Library and Dolphin Centre by approximately £330,000.
It would also deliver a modern, accessible library for the town which will address many of the shortcomings of the Crown Street site such as poor toilet provision, baby change facilities, social/breakout space, cafe facilities, modern environment and improved ICT. 

What will happen to the Crown Street Library building – isn’t it covered by a restricted covenant?

What will happen to the Crown Street Library building – isn’t it covered by a restricted covenant?

The library opened in 1885 following a bequest from the will of Edward Pease (1834-1880) and we have been in touch with the Pease family about the Council’s budget proposals. Although we do not have the original records, it may well have been the case that the property was subject to a restrictive covenant and possibly a trust.
In 1983 a statutory declaration was made by a former Assistant Borough Solicitor about the loss of deeds that occurred in 1974. This indicated that in 1983 the property was thought to be subject to a restrictive covenant that it should be ‘used for purposes of a public library forever’.Land Registry records show the Council as the freehold owner, but there is reference made to lost deeds and documents and that restrictive covenants imposed before 9 September 2010 are still enforceable.
If there is a restrictive covenant concerning the Crown Street building this does not prevent the library service from relocating to another building. It could however restrict the future use of Crown Street. There are steps that can be taken to have a restrictive covenant removed. This would be by making an application to the Lands Tribunal, which has the power to vary or discharge covenants on land.

Why don’t you mothball Head of Steam and/or merge it with Locomotion at Shildon (which is free) and use the money to save Crown Street Library?

Why don’t you mothball Head of Steam and/or merge it with Locomotion at Shildon (which is free) and use the money to save Crown Street Library?

If you wish to put this forward as a suggestion it is something that could be considered. However, the Cabinet’s budget proposals reflect a desire to retain Loco No.1 and other key assets that are in the Head of Steam as they are a fundamental part of the town’s heritage. There is the opportunity to use that heritage to be a part of the town’s regeneration and visitor offer as we move toward the 200 years celebration of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 2025. The saving from closing the museum could be used to retain Crown Street, however further savings would also be required to keep Crown Street open as the cost of the Museum is less than would be required to keep Crown Street open.

Could we bring together the libraries and museums service for all five boroughs in the Tees Valley to form one service where perhaps economies of scale can be achieved?  This may be a way of saving the library service in Darlington and keeping the library at Crown Street.  The Head of Steam Museum could also be included in the service and linked to other museums in the Tees Valley.  Has this been explored and if it has not, can it perhaps be explored?

Could we bring together the libraries and museums service for all five boroughs in the Tees Valley to form one service where perhaps economies of scale can be achieved?  This may be a way of saving the library service in Darlington and keeping the library at Crown Street.  The Head of Steam Museum could also be included in the service and linked to other museums in the Tees Valley.  Has this been explored and if it has not, can it perhaps be explored?

This has been looked at previously to some degree. The complexity is that libraries tend to be managed in different ways in different places – in some they are in education, some leisure, some culture. This makes the exercise of separating out costs and people much more complex and often there will be a raft of cross subsidy going on. There appears to be little appetite from other authorities at present and regrettably the timescale involved is impractical, as it would probably take a minimum of a year with uncertainty as to whether it could actually achieve the scale of savings we need.

Your Say

3 comment(s)

This table lists comments from the public about this proposal

Comment

FF 52f (Libraries – Local Studies)
FF 52b (A Remodelled Dolphin Centre including the Central Library)

I am a frequent user of the Centre for Local Studies. It is a fantastic resource. Much of the material is available for users to self-serve, either by accessing resources online, from the shelving in the room or on micro-fiche after a brief introduction from the staff.

This level of access must be maintained as it has low overheads and meets the needs of the majority of users. An appointment system will lead to a huge reduction in the use of the service as it will be impractical. Researchers need to be able to ask for additional material straight away, as their work uncovers new lines of enquiry. Having to book a second appointment will make the service very difficult to use.

I am concerned that it will be impossible to accommodate all of the archive material in the Dolphin Centre. The figures provided for the floor area of Crown Street seem to have excluded the vast amount of storage currently utilised in the basement of the library. Rather than shoehorning an inadequate service into the Dolphin Centre I would prefer to see the Local Studies Centre relocated to the Head of Steam, to tie-up with the existing Ken Hoole study centre and to form part of the Darlington Heritage Campus. This would free up space in Crown Street for commercial activities which would support the upkeep of the library service.

The alternative, which I expect would see the excess material sent to Durham County Record Office, would be a tragic loss to the town, for which the council should be ashamed.

FF 52f (Libraries – Local Studies)
Cut W04 (Library - Local Studies)
FF 52b (A Remodelled Dolphin Centre including the Central Library)

A letter about the proposals for the library and local studies services

Documents


Cut W03 (Library Service Mobile Library)
Cut W05 (Cockerton Library)
FF 52f (Libraries – Local Studies)
Cut W04 (Library - Local Studies)
FF 52b (A Remodelled Dolphin Centre including the Central Library)

Consultation response letter from Darlington for Culture

Documents