One Stop Shop and Jobcentre office to be located into Helston Library

There has been a lot of speculation on the future of libraries, One Stop Shops in Cornwall. For Helston and the surrounding area, these vital services have been located at two different locations in Helston.

To add into the mix, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP or Jobcentre) have been looking at its long-term commitment in Helston and had recently announced various offices that were under review  – which included Helston.

Myself and my fellow local Cornwall Councillors have argued all three of these services are vital, and it would be a huge blow to Helston, Porthleven and the surrounding area if they could no-longer access these services.

After various meetings with officers about the future of these services, I am pleased to say in a message from two portfolio holders which cover the council services and localisum, they have confirmed the long-term future of the Library, One Stop Shop services and Jobcentre by moving the latter two into the Library. As follows:

“In Helston the Jobcentre will be sharing premises with the library.  This will preserve access to the Jobcentre and ensure the library has a flexible space that will allow it to deliver a modern service.  It will also mean we are able to extend the library’s opening hours.  The Information Service that is currently delivered from Isaac House will be moving to Helston Library too, making it easier for people to access more services in one place.”

This is excellent news and I am pleased the views of local Cornwall Councillors have been taken into account and we have protected three vital services in Helston. My understanding is the Registration Services, which offers Weddings will remain at Isaac House. Issac House is not owned by Cornwall Council and is owned privately.

Changes to library and OSS opening hours

I have said this many times before, but I will repeated it just to make sure people start to understand the position Cornwall Council finds itself in with the budget reductions. The Council has to find £196m in savings in the next four years. This is on top of the £170m previously found. The previous amount was found – just, but this time it will be a lot more difficult and will mean services provision will change, or in some cases stop completely.

I know the service area I cover in my portfolio has seen reductions and stopping of services. It is not nice, and if things funding wise were different, I would not be having to make those difficult choices. But we do, as the £196m is a real game changer, and we cannot do it by a few tweaks here and there.

The Children’s Portfolio is not the only area to feel the pressure, as other portfolios will see changes.

One of the changes to another service is to library and one stop shop (OSS) opening hours. This is being done to make the savings required, but more importantly, stops the Council from actually closing down any of the facilities. You many not like it, but you will like it less if the provision was closed down, and the building sold off. These changes will come into effect on the 1st June 2014

For the Helston area, the library will be closed on Tuesday and Thursday from 1st June. The remaining days the facility will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30am till 5pm; and on Saturday 10am till 1pm. This is a reduction of 25.5 hours per week.

The Helston OSS will also see changes to the opening times. As from the 1st June the OSS will be closed on Wednesday. On the other days – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, the OOS will be open 9am till 5pm.  A reduction of 25.5 hours per week. The OSS is not open Saturday or Sunday.

Other areas which have libraries and OOS will also see a reduction, and these are:

Library and OOS new opening times

Library and OOS new opening times

Combining Services into One Building

The cuts handed down from central Government were not pleasant. There is no getting away from the fact services will be affected. The trick is making sure these cuts have as little impact as possible. 
One of the areas that have near £1.6 million of cuts over the next four years is Libraries and Customer Services. In other Authorities Libraries and Customer Service points have been simply closed. In Cornwall to avoid this heavy handed approach the Council looked into combining services into one building. I have no issue with this, as long as the service is still the same. In fact it makes perfect sense to cut building running costs by moving services into one building. 
After much public consultation it has been decided that the following One Stop Shops (OSS) will be moved into these Libraries. These are Bodmin, Camelford, Hayle, Launceston, Redruth and St Ives. These moves will not be instant, but will take a few months to make sure the OSS utilise the space in the Libraries.
Now doubt some people will not be happy, but I say it is better to look at the best ways to keep a service than just simply cutting it. This for me is a sensible way forward when the alternative is far worse.