Redditch Library Consultation

Redditch Library Consultation

The Redditch Library Consultation is an opportunity for us to share the proposed library relocation plans with Worcestershire/ Redditch residents and community organisations so that both groups can provide their views and make suggestions.

Background

In June 2021 Redditch Borough Council secured a historic investment of £15.6 million Town Deal funding which will help fund ambitious new projects for the town. The funding represents one of the single largest government investments in Redditch since it became a new town in the 1960s

As a result of this funding, a group of projects are being proposed to boost the productivity and economy of the town, promote innovation and digital transformation, enhance the look and feel of the public areas and provide increased green and connected town centre spaces.

One of the priority projects being proposed is for Redditch Library to relocate from its existing site to Redditch Borough Council Town Hall. This relocation will result in the redevelopment of the current Redditch Library site to make way for a public square, a café pavilion and further commercial developments.

The Proposal

It is proposed that Redditch Library relocates from its existing site to Redditch Borough Council Town Hall, which is a short walk away from its current location. Worcestershire County Council and Redditch Borough Council believe that Redditch Library provides an important service to residents and community groups within the town, and therefore have specified that if the library were to be relocated:

  • library floor space will remain equal to or similar to the current library space
  • the library service will remain accessible to all
  • the library service will not be reduced

The proposed plans for the relocated library are to deliver a new community ‘one stop’ venue in the refurbished Town Hall, providing residents with flexible access to a variety of services. The new ground floor entrance will become the focal point of the building with clear signposting to enable public and staff to easily use the facilities which include:

  • ground floor library service and shared space with open plan entrance, event and display area, soft seating, book displays, refreshments customer service pod, book collections public computers and study tables, children’s library, young people’s area, Business and IP Centre (BIPC) area meeting room space and space for community group use
  • first floor library service space for book collections, and further public computers, study tables and meeting rooms.
  • second floor further meeting rooms including large council chamber for multi-agency use
  • lower ground floor dedicated for partners and third parties to use

For more information about the Redditch Library relocation see the Redditch District Council website.

Have your say

The Redditch Library Consultation ran between 7 November 2022 and 24 February 2023. Residents were able to provide their thoughts on the relocation proposal by online or paper surveys, and by attending face to face consultation meetings.

The documents published below provide:

Within the reports, information which can identify someone, is unrelated to the Redditch Library relocation, or comments which are abusive, offensive, hateful, or defamatory have been redacted.

During the consultation, two public meetings were held for people to provide their feedback on the library relocation proposal, and a meeting with the Local History Group and Archives team was also held. The notes from these meetings can be found below:

Please note that the attached documents do not provide verbatim comments and some responses and questions may have been paraphrased.

How concerns about the relocation have been addressed

Worcestershire County Council launched an extensive public consultation in November 2022 until February 2023 to understand resident and library user views and opinions about the potential relocation of services. During this consultation, the Council were able to gather invaluable feedback about what people may have been concerned about and were able to ensure that the solutions to these concerns were factored into the plans if the Library Service were to relocate.

Please see more information about the main concerns raised during the consultation and the proposed solutions below.

“The proposed location for the new library is not as good as the current library i.e. it is further from the town centre, bus stops, railway station and car parks”

The proposed new library location is 100 metres from the current location, and whilst this may be of benefit for some customers by being closer to a car park i.e. the Quadrant, and public transport stops, it may also increase the walking distance for others.

To help with this, Worcestershire County Council and Redditch Borough Council will:

  • map and promote the shortest and most accessible routes from around the town centre to the Town Hall, including signs and signposting where possible
  • restore the lift from Car Park 4 which brings customers out into a covered walkway called Fountain Passage, providing a direct route to the Town Hall
  • review the shop mobility service (where customers can access devices to assist with moving around the town) to see how it can be improved
  • provide a Blue Badge parking space in the Town Hall car park for library customers, which will be in addition to the short stay pick up and drop off spaces (this would allow customers with blue badges to park directly outside the library in its new location)

The Dial a ride service will also still be available in Redditch and will drop people off directly outside the Town Hall.

"Concern that there will be a reduction in the facilities offered by the new location"

Worcestershire County Council is committed to ensuring that the library services and facilities are not negatively impacted by the relocation. A wide range of planning work has been carried out to create floor plans for the proposed space, and based on this, the Council are confident that there will be no reduction to the library service offer. For more details on this please review the Cabinet Paper and Appendices for the 20th of July Cabinet Meeting - Agenda for Cabinet on Thursday 20 July 2023, 10:00am - Worcestershire County Council.

Meeting rooms and event space for community clubs have been included within the plans, along with the same level of study and public computer space. The plans also show the dedicated areas for children’s library, fiction, non-fiction, large print, quick choice, young adults and BIPC as well as a new space for Local History.

The storage space and layout available on the lower ground floor provides adequate space to be able to keep a substantial proportion of the current archive collection in the new Town Hall location. The County Archivist will continue to work with local history groups and local archive volunteers to implement best practice approaches for cataloguing, storing, and facilitating supervised access to Redditch archive collections.

"Concern that the relocation will result in a reduction in the size of the new library"

As mentioned above, Worcestershire County Council is committed to ensuring the library service and facilities are not negatively impacted by the relocation, and Property Services have conducted due diligence and confirmed that the new space within the Town Hall is no less than the current location.

There will be no reduction in available, public facing, service delivery space within the library. Once complete, the library will also have access to a communal shared space which will include the main entrance and reception area. Here, quick return kiosks and front facing book displays will be located, along with a central shared event / informal meeting space which can be used for events such as job fairs. There will also be additional meeting rooms on the third floor which can be used to accommodate meetings and groups.

"Concerned the new location would lead to a fall in library use"

To encourage the library is used as frequently as it is now, the Council will continue to provide and develop services that are valued by residents. The library service will invite library customers and local residents to share their ideas and suggestions for how the new library space could be used and for new library services that could be provided from the new location. Once the library is relocated, there will be specific communication along with activities such as 'Welcome Days' at the library, to introduce new space and facilities.

"Concern the new building might be less accessible, e.g., steps, steep ramps etc."

The proposed space available for library services within the Community Hub is mainly located on the ground floor of the Town Hall, with additional services on the first floor and space for Worcestershire County Council’s tenant on the lower ground floor. This compares to the current library building which has services spread over 3 split floors (6 floors total) with additional storage and staff facilities in the basement. The new space will be fully Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) compliant and will have a new lift for access to the upper and lower floors.

"Safety of the area around the Town Hall and on the approaches to it."

Redditch Borough Council have confirmed that new lighting is being added to existing lamps within the Town Centre as part of Public Realm enhancements, along with all new lighting along the High Street. The canopies of covered walking routes are well lit with spotlights and ornamental fairy lights. There are also foot lights, ceiling lights and colour changing lights behind the murals in Fountain Passage, which is a key walking route from the Kingfisher Centre.

The Town Hall is also opposite the Palace Theatre, which is well used in the evenings, therefore the location is not isolated.

"I won’t use the library in its new location as I don’t like the environment or feeling of the new building"

The Council encourages people to continue to use the library as much as they do now, so as part of the relocation plans, the library space is being designed to provide a modern, open, and welcoming space for people to visit.

Frequently asked questions

Why is Redditch Library being relocated?

In June 2021 Redditch Borough Council secured an investment of £15.6 million Town Deal funding, which will help fund ambitious new projects to boost the productivity and economy of the town, and enhance the look and feel of public areas by providing increased green and connected town centre spaces.

To help deliver these projects, it is proposed that Redditch Library relocates from its existing site to Redditch Borough Council Town Hall, where the current library site will be redeveloped into a public square with café pavilion and further commercial developments. For more information, please visit: Redditch town centre proposals - redditchbc.gov.uk

Why is it being proposed that Redditch Library relocate to the Town Hall rather than another location in Redditch? 

As a result of implementing more agile/virtual staff working since the pandemic, Redditch Borough Council requires significantly less space at the Town Hall site.

The relocation of Redditch Library and other public sector organisations to the Town Hall has been proposed to make best use of vacant space and create a community service hub for Redditch, which will be convenient for residents. For more information, please visit: Redditch town centre proposals.

Which other public sector organisations will be located at the Town Hall

The NHS is confirmed to be located in the Town Hall. The Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), and Cranstouns (a charity that supports those with drug and alcohol addiction) are potential partners. Others are to be confirmed in due course.

Will DWP relocate to the Town Hall?

This is yet to be confirmed.

What are the plans for the existing library site once the library has relocated?

The existing library site will be used to create a new public plaza and events space, including bars and restaurants, helping drive footfall from the Kingfisher Centre and improving connectivity with the historic town centre. For more information, please visit: Redditch town centre proposals - redditchbc.gov.uk

What is Worcestershire County Council’s role in the library relocation? 

It is Redditch Borough Council’s proposal to relocate the library to make way for a new plaza, however Worcestershire County Council has a statutory duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service to residents. Therefore, in order to support the proposed relocation of Redditch Library from the current building in Redditch Town Centre into a new Community Hub at Redditch Town Hall, Worcestershire County Council must be satisfied that the relocation will not adversely affect library service provision in Redditch.

When a significant change is being proposed to a service, Worcestershire County Council may decide to formally consult with the public to get their opinions on the proposal. From 7 November 2022 until 24 February 2023, Worcestershire County Council will carry out a public consultation to gain residents’ opinions on the proposal to relocate the library before any final decision is made, taking into account the feedback received during the consultation process.

If a decision is made to progress the library relocation, the town development, including all building works and demolition, will be led by Redditch Borough Council. 

Are any savings being made by moving the library to Redditch Town Hall?

Worcestershire County Council is not seeking to make any savings through the proposed relocation of Redditch Library to the Town Hall. If the relocation goes ahead, we expect there to be investment in new library furniture and fittings, book stock and equipment.

Will the library continue to offer all the services that it currently provides in the new location? 

Yes, if the library relocates to the Town Hall, all library services provided from the existing library site will continue to be provided from the Town Hall, including computers and printers, study desks, seating, meeting rooms and meeting space. 

Both Worcestershire County Council and Redditch Borough Council believe that Redditch Library provides an important and highly valued service to residents and community groups within the town, and therefore have specified that if the library were to be relocated:

  • library floor space will remain equal to, or similar to, the current library space
  • the library service will remain accessible to all
  • the library service will not be reduced

Will staff lose their jobs? If so, how many job losses do you estimate?

No library staff will lose their jobs as a result of the relocation. 

Will library opening hours be changed? If so, do you have any more detail?

Redditch Library opening hours will remain the same if the relocation goes ahead.

There is potential to increase opening hours by implementing Libraries Unlocked at Redditch Library. Libraries Unlocked is a new service from Worcestershire Libraries, which offers longer opening hours and more flexibility for customers and community groups to use their local library at times that are convenient to them.

New technology allows customers or community partners with Libraries Unlocked membership to enter the library using their library card outside core opening hours, and to use library services or library space independently when staff are not present.

Libraries Unlocked was introduced in Droitwich and Stourport libraries in June 2022, and early signs are that it has been well received by both library customers and community organisations.

Over the coming months we will review performance data and feedback from customers, partners and staff to inform proposals for further implementation of Libraries Unlocked. 

These proposals will be considered separately to the consultation on the proposed relocation of Redditch Library.

Do you expect visitor numbers to increase/decrease when the library is relocated?

The experience from other Worcestershire library relocations is that visitor numbers increase following the relocation of a library. We would expect this to be the case if Redditch Library relocates to the Town Hall.

We expect the location of other organisations, alongside Redditch Library, at the Town Hall site will contribute to and help to maintain this increase in visitor numbers. 

To ensure the library is easy for customers to find in its new location, Worcestershire County Council has specified that, if the library relocates to the Town Hall, it will have visible design links and directional signage links within the new public realm space in Redditch Town Centre, to integrate the library into the wider town centre scheme and ‘lead’ residents to the library.

Will parking be available to library customers at the Town Hall?

A decision on the availability of parking facilities at Redditch Town Hall will be made by Redditch Borough Council once there is greater clarity on which services will be located in the building.

Who makes the final decision on the relocation of the library? Is it a political decision or officer-led? 
Following the completion of the public consultation, the proposal (along with the public’s feedback) will go back to

Cabinet who will make the final decision.   

Will the proposed changes be based on the public and stakeholder consultation or has the decision already been made? 

Prior to any decisions being made we will complete a 90-day public consultation to gain the thoughts of residents about the relocation of the library. Worcestershire County Council are committed to holding an independent, open and transparent consultation. We encourage members of the public who wish to have their say on the proposal to engage with the consultation survey and events.

Following the completion of the consultation, the results will be analysed and a Cabinet paper written. This paper will be reviewed by our Overview and Scrutiny Panel before going to Worcestershire County Council’s Cabinet, where the Members will review and make a final decision. The results of the survey and all reports will be publicly available. Currently, it is planned that the Cabinet Report for the library relocation will be reviewed in May 2023 (however this may be subject to change).

How do you think these changes are going to affect vulnerable groups such as the elderly who access library services daily?

An initial Equality Impact Assessment screening and Public Health assessment screening of the proposed relocation has been undertaken, and no adverse impacts on particular groups have been identified.

The proposed designs for the relocated library place the service predominantly on the ground floor of the building which can be accessed from street level, with lifts also being provided as part of the proposal. However, feedback on the impact of proposals on residents is being sought as part of the consultation, and will be used to support further assessment and inform final decisions. 

Will Worcestershire County Council receive any money from the Town’s Fund for this activity?

No, Worcestershire County Council will not receive any money from the Town’s Fund for this activity. Please refer to Redditch Borough Council’s Executive Summary Papers, which outline how the money will be used during this activity: Redditch town centre proposals - redditchbc.gov.uk 

What will happen to the archives at the library?

Storage space is available at the Town Hall for archive and local history material, and other library collections. 
Archive holdings at Redditch Library are being reviewed by the County’s Archivist with a view to identifying the best way of recording, storing, and conserving archives, and options for retaining access for local people. 

Other non-archive material held in the Redditch Library basement is also being reviewed by the library service, to ensure that it reflects library stock policies.

On 24 January 2023, as part of the Redditch Library consultation, a meeting was hosted at Redditch Library by representatives of Worcestershire County Council to provide an opportunity for Redditch local history groups and volunteers to ask questions, provide feedback and make suggestions on local history material and archive material currently housed in Redditch Library basement.

Positive discussions at the meeting highlighted the valuable work currently being undertaken by volunteers to record the archive and artifact collections in Redditch Library basement, and the good condition that the material is in. A commitment was made that Worcestershire County Council would work collaboratively with local history groups to identify the best outcome for the collections should the library relocate to the Town Hall.

If the library were to move to Redditch Town Hall would space still be available for the archives at the new library site?

While the total amount of library storage space would reduce if the library were to relocate to the Town Hall, space would still be available to store archive, historic artefacts and other local history material. The Redditch Library team are in the process of reviewing and reducing other library material that currently takes up a significant proportion of the library basement space.  

What pieces would be moved to the Hive (and how can we determine what should stay in Redditch)?

This will be reviewed with the local history groups and volunteers before any decisions are made.

How can we make Redditch local history material accessible to all?

The ways in which people can best access Redditch local history is under review, and will comprise a range of options which may include digital access, as well as physical access in Redditch locations.

Public face to face meetings

The dates of the public face to face sessions are below. 

Councillor Marcus Hart, Cabinet Member for Communities, and Hannah Perrott, Assistant Director for Communities, will be in attendance to answer questions about the proposed library relocation. 

The Cabinet Member for Communities will do an introduction to the session, outlining key points from recent Cabinet reports and will then invite questions.

  • Tuesday 24 January 2023, 5:00pm to 6:00pm at Redditch Library
  • Thursday 9 February 2023, 10:00am to 11:00am at Redditch Library
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