Kent County Council has admitted it made a “mistake” by posting a job advert about transforming its libraries into a trust model – before publicly consulting on the change or having councillors agree to it.
The full-time contract job was advertised as “project manager for transformation delivery libraries” with a paycheck of between £500 and £600 a day.
The ad has now been pulled but one councillor told News Shopper he was “not very happy” to hear about it being posted online and he is concerned about job cuts under the proposed restructure.
The Big-Society style proposal would see a trust operate the libraries meaning less council control and more community involvement including volunteers.
The current head of libraries, registration and archives at Kent County Council (KCC) Cath Anley is leaving this year but the trust model has not been confirmed by the council and there is reportedly not even a business plan.
The vacancy details, posted by recruitment agency Connect Staff, said the individual “will play a critical role working collaboratively with external stakeholders to ensure the implementation and delivery of a trust model for Kent Libraries, Registration and Archives”.
The online vacancy was spotted by the author of the Campaigning for Libraries in Kent (CllK) blog who wrote about it on June 29.
Labour Councillor for the Dartford North East Tom Maddison (pictured below) told News Shopper he had not been aware of the ad going up.
He said: “We were given a presentation by Kent County Council Leader Paul Carter last Thursday (July 17) and I stated I would prefer to keep with the structure we have but if necessary the trust model is worth exploring.
“However I would not want to see people lose their jobs to be replaced by volunteers.
“I don’t feel very happy about the council advertising the job before the elected members of the council have been consulted.”
A KCC spokesman said: “It was a mistake that the recent advert came out for the project manager role for this work and as soon as this was spotted it was withdrawn immediately.
“Further work is now being done to look at options and assess the viability of these proposals and how they might be implemented.
“If KCC does move down the trust road then it will need some professional expertise to assist with delivering this change and some options have been considered for how we could get this expertise.
“No formal decisions have yet been taken and if the recommendations of this process are for a significant change in how libraries currently work, full public consultation will follow.”
Cabinet member for community services at KCC Councillor Mike Hill (pictured above) said: “No firm decisions would be made until a detailed business case is drawn up.
“We are conducting a wholesale review of every service, and the library service will have to play its part.”
News Shopper reported on the possibility of the trust model for KCC’s libraries earlier this year.
A few days ago, Lincolnshire County Council was blasted by the High Court which ruled the council had not properly consulted on its plan to convert libraries into community-run hubs.