Library and Leisure Services to be Contracted Out

Ealing Council to merge service provision with other boroughs

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A meeting of Ealing Council on 21st May is to be asked to rubber stamp a proposal to contract out library and leisure services in the borough.

If the plan is approved, John Laing Ltd. will take over the running of the library service. They already run the libraries in Hounslow and Harrow and the latter borough would act as the client on behalf of London Borough of Ealing in what would be a shared contract.

The delivery of leisure services is to be handed over to Sports and Leisure Management Ltd (SLM). They are one of the UK’s largest providers of Leisure Centres, with 28 local authority leisure contracts, including Bristol City Council and Cambridge City Council. This will also be a shared contract with Brent and Harrow. Ealing will be acting as the client for the other two boroughs.

The Council believe that the new contracts will help them meet their annual savings targets of £250,000 per annum for leisure and £233,000 for libraries. There is no definite indication that the new contract will involve library closures although the report to be presented to the Council on the proposals states, “officers have continued to explore alternative delivery models for all static libraries in an effort to continue to provide a comprehensive library service that achieves value for money.”

The report claims that the three boroughs involved will save over £20 million over the 10 year life of the leisure contract and 5 year life of the library contract. Both contracts would come into effect on 1 September 2013.

There has been angry reaction to the proposals from the unions. Ealing Unison has called for a lobby of the Council meeting from 6.30pm on the 21st May. They claim there has been no proper consultation of the plans for the boroughs libraries with users, staff or unions and they describe the plan as a privatisation that will reduce the standard of service for the public and worsen the terms and conditions for staff.


May 16, 2013