This post is from Gill Johnson and explores the issue of the hidden ICT costs associated with library cuts and closures in Doncaster. It is apparent that the promised savings to be made from cutting council funding to 14 libraries will be totally wiped out by the cost of relocating ICT resources:
So far most of our efforts have been concentrated on trying to stop the closures of those branch libraries under immediate threat. However there are other aspects of the Officer Report presented to Cabinet on 4th February which are potentially the cause of great concern and which demand an answer. In the stay of execution granted by the consultation process announced by Mayor Davies on 18th February Save Doncaster Libraries will be following up on some of these.
For example in Para. 12 Financial implications, reference is made to “In addition… disposed sites may require extensive IT work to relocate network hubs at a cost of approximately £90k with additional annual lease costs of £172k”.
This refers to the high speed fibre optic broadband connections that were installed in all Doncaster’s libraries in 2000 under the national People’s Network project paid for with Lottery funding. DMBC benefitted from this by using this as a hub connection to other DMBC buildings within about a 1 mile radius of each of the libraries including Council offices, schools etc. Therefore if any of these libraries is closed and the building sold the hub will need to be relocated, or some other provision made, if there is not to be a knock-on effect on other DMBC facilities.
We believe that this will prove to be a very expensive exercise, perhaps in the region of £60k per site, adding up to more than £800,000. If so this would wipe out more than 60% of the savings requirement needed by the total package of cuts.
As Assistant Director of Customer Services and ICT, Ms. Julie Grant is now responsible not only for the Library Service but also the corporate ICT strategy and service structure. Therefore this should be an easy question for her to answer.
We are asking for more detailed information to be made available as we contend that the report contains a number of simplistic statements which do not reflect the possible impact financial or qualitative on specific departments or the service overall.