Barnet Libraries due to receive £250,000 technology upgrade

I have just issued the following Press Release

Barnet’s libraries are set to benefit from the investment of more than £250,000 through the introduction of self service technology and Wi-Fi.

Over the coming months work will be underway to install self service kiosks in the borough’s libraries to allow residents to borrow, renew and return books at the touch of a button.

Libraries already using the technology will have their machines updated while at other libraries people will be able to use the self service machines for the first time.

The upgrade will also see Wi-Fi installed in libraries which don’t already have it.

Installation work will require a number of the borough’s libraries to close for a short time. Details of the closures can be found below or by visiting http://www.barnet.gov.uk/libraries

The machines will help free up staff to deal with more complex enquiries and to run events and activities.

RFIDs, or Radio Frequency Identification kiosks, allow people to place multiple books into the machine which they can borrow, renew or return using a number of touch screen options.

Staff will be on hand to help customers as they become familiar with the new machines.

Councillor Robert Rams, Cabinet Member for Customer Access and Partnerships, said: “When I launched our library review we pledged to invest money in modern technology to ensure that our library service continues to be one of the best in London.

“Over the next few months we will see our Library service brought into the 21st Century with the installation of self service kiosks.

“In some libraries we are spending up to £40,000 to enable us to do this, but residents will see the benefits for many years to come.”

The following closures will be in place to allow installation or self service technology and Wi-Fi.

Osidge Library – closed from Tuesday 26 February until Saturday 9 March inclusive. The library will re-open on Tuesday 12 March.

Mill Hill Library – closed on Tuesday 26 February from 9.30am – 2pm. The library will re-open the same day at 2pm.

Hendon Library – closed on Thursday 28 February. The library will re-open on Friday 1 March.

Edgware Library – closed on Monday 4 March. The library will re-open on Tuesday 5 March.

Church End Library – closed from Monday 11 March until Saturday 23 March inclusive. The library will re-open on Monday 25 March.

Grahame Park Library – closed on Tuesday 12 March from 9.30am – 2pm. The library will re-open on the same day at 2pm.

Chipping Barnet – closed on Wednesday 13 March 9.30am – 2pm. The library will re-open on the same day at 2pm.

Childs Hill Library – closed from Tuesday 19 March until Saturday 30 March. The library will re-open on Tuesday 2 April.

East Barnet Library – closed on Monday 25 March 2013. The library will re-open on Tuesday 26 March.

Notes to Editors

Some libraries will be closed for longer than others. This is because some libraries will be undergoing additional renovation work and modifications to the internal structure.

We like it here’ say 88 per cent of Barnet residents

The Press Release below highlights the latest results from the Residents’ Perception Survey.
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‘We like it here’ say 88 per cent of Barnet residents

The vast majority of Barnet residents feel positive about their local area and council and think local services are improving, a survey has revealed.

Of the 1,600 residents questioned in the Barnet Residents’ Perception Survey, 88 per cent said they were satisfied with their local area as a place to live, a two per cent increase on the previous survey in 2010.

Despite the council making £42m savings over the last three years, 72 per cent of residents felt the council was doing a good job, offering value for money (55 per cent) and improving their area (60 per cent).

Residents’ top three concerns were crime (31 per cent), road and pavement conditions (26 per cent) and level of council tax (23 per cent)

Council tax has overtaken rising prices and interest rates as a major concern from the previous survey.

Residents are also now more concerned with traffic congestion, litter and dirty streets, and lack of affordable housing compared to 2010’s survey.

Nine services saw significant increases in satisfaction (roads, adult social services, education, children social services, parks, playgrounds & open spaces, pavements and housing benefit service).

Street cleansing and libraries saw a three per cent drop in satisfaction ratings while parking and council leisure facilities saw a four per cent decrease in satisfaction.

Council Leader Councillor Richard Cornelius: “Barnet has chosen to cut the cost of administration rather than reduce services. Residents seem to like this and share our concerns at the levels of council tax.

“We have reflected our residents’ concerns about the level of council tax by taking the decision not to increase it for the fourth year running.

“Of course there are always areas for improvement and we’ll be looking at the results closely. This consultation helps to inform our plans and last year we spent an extra £4.5m on roads and pavements and supporting younger residents not in employment, education or training in response to a previous perception survey.”

The Residents’ Perception Survey was conducted by an independent market research company.

Telephone interviews were conducted with over 1,600 residents (adults 18+) from a representative quota sample on age, gender, ethnic origin and housing tenure across the London Borough of Barnet.

A summary of last week in Barnet

Barnet Primary schools were rated the second best in the country.

Barnet Library services have been awarded £2000 from the Arts Council to help make every primary school child a member of a library.

The council announced a plan to save taxpayers £120million over the next ten years in back office costs. If agreed by Cabinet this week – this will see a large investment in back office services whilst enabling us to freeze council tax.

The Mayor of Barnet held a reception in the town hall to thank all those from Barnet who volunteered during the Olympics.

The Leader of Barnet Council launched a petition to fight the closure of police stations in Barnet – http://petitions.barnet.gov.uk/PoliceStations/

Private v Public

I read with interest this evening that John Dix writes on his blog that,

“Conservative Councillors labour under the belief that all private companies are good and all public sector staff are bad”

http://reasonablenewbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/lessons-barnet-need-to-learn-from-g4s.html?m=1

This is simply not true.

I can’t speak on behalf of all Conservative Councillors but this one believes in this tough economic times – better services for less money. Hence why the One Barnet project is looking at all our services and looking at better and cheaper ways of running our services.

The library service is a classic example of this.

By making changes to the way our service is run, moving Friern Barnet library and North Finchley library into the Arstdepot and letting the community run HGS library ( an offer which friern residents were given in Friary House) we are able to,

Spend more money on books
Put literacy at the heart of everything we do
Open our libraries longer
And make every primary school child a library member.

Other services will be outsourced and some will be merged with other boroughs – all to make the services better, cheaper and keep council tax down.

And our recycling service has been outsourced for years with out any problems!

But you will not read that on his blog!

Handing over the keys!

I have just helped hand over the keys to a new ambulance that was funded by the Big Society Innovation Bank.

Below are the few words I said at the start of the event.

“I am delighted to officially hand over the keys to this vehicle for use by the London Ambulance Service Volunteer Responder Group.

This is a project to set up a ‘blue light’ emergency medical response service manned by off duty doctors and police officers and was funded by our Big Society Innovation Bank.

It is one of nine projects to successfully bid for a slice of the £200,000 on offer in the first round of applications for Innovation Bank funding. We awarded £28,000 to pay for the vehicle and to train the volunteers who will staff the service.

These volunteers are off-duty doctors and police officers who will work in their spare time to provide a blue light emergency response on top of those provided by the London Ambulance Service.

This is a fantastic example of how some financial support, coupled with the commitment of volunteers can make a real difference to people’s lives.”

Town Hall Protestors – they did themselves no favours

If you take time the read the so called “barnet blogs” you will be painted a one sided picture of events of the full council meeting on Tuesday. The reality was very different.

Yes there was a small protest outside – the same people we see most full council and cabinet meetings.

Yes there was lots of heckling – again by the same people but this time it was embarrassing to themselves and did their argument no favours at all. It was so over the top and we ran out of time debating the one barnet motion – which was a real shame.

At the break I met with John Burgess of Unison. He introduced me two of his colleagues whose names sadly I have forgotten. I hope they don’t mind me saying that they looked embarrassed by what was going on and one of the ladies tried to point out to me that not all the members of their union were like this.

I passionately believe that what we are doing is the right thing – and it is obvious that they are passionate in their views – but Tuesdays performance by a small group of people did themselves no favours.

It must be remembered that we are in this situation and forced down this path because of the former Labour Government – whom I am sure many of the protestors supported.

One Barnet – Something a bit different!

Last night as part of my one barnet speech to the full Barnet Council I talked about our community coaches scheme which is working with some of the most ‘troubled’ families in Barnet.

This is a One Barnet scheme we are now moving into the second phase after a successful pilot and is developing real results.

A recent analysis of a set number of case studies showed a 45% reduction in chaotic behaviour of families following the intervention of a Community Coach. This coach coordinates work from across the council with the family as well as offering support and help. The coach comes directly from the community.

These results and other evidence have helped to create a business case to continue this already successful programme into the future, which is having a real impact on some of the most ‘troubled’ families in the borough.

I questioned why we need a referendum on projects such as this.