Barnet London Borough Council, like most local authorities, has seen the need to reduce its spending on services due to significant budget cuts. The Council has had to make savings across all services in order to meet the shortfall. One such service area is libraries, where the Council has to save £2.85m by 2020. To achieve this target saving, the Council put forward proposals relating to the future delivery of library services in November 2014 for residents to consider and a comprehensive consultation took place between November 2014 and February 2015.
In response to the findings from the first consultation, Barnet London Borough Council considered and developed a revised proposal for the future of Barnet’s Library Service and commissioned Enventure Research to undertake a further public consultation on the revised proposal.
The consultation’s objective was to gather views and opinions on the revised proposals for Barnet’s future Library Services, ensuring a cross-section of residents took part, particularly those from vulnerable and hard-to-reach groups, such as older people, those with a learning or physical disability, unemployed people and younger people.
The consultation was open to all residents and stakeholders and took place over a ten-week period between October 2015 and January 2016. A mixed quantitative and qualitative methodology was chosen. The quantitative approach involved a self-completion paper questionnaire and an online survey. Paper copies of the survey were made available at libraries across Barnet. To ensure that the questionnaire was accessible, an easy read version was also available on request.
The consultation was also available to complete online and open to all stakeholders. The online link was promoted via the Council’s consultation page, on social media, in the local press and on posters in libraries and other public places. Active members of the Barnet Citizen’s Panel were also emailed a link to the survey to encourage further participation. In total, 1,216 responses were received to the questionnaire.
To supplement the quantitative survey, five focus groups, each lasting 90 minutes were held with Barnet residents. The groups included those from vulnerable groups, and were recruited by Barnet London Borough Council. To supplement this research, an additional five in depth telephone interviews, lasting 20-25 minutes, were undertaken with residents over the age of 65, to gather further views on the revised proposals. Recruitment of participants was arranged by Barnet Council and QFRS Research Agency.
Results and Benefits to the Client
The findings from the consultation will aid Barnet London Borough Council’s decision making on how to shape the future of the Library Services throughout the Borough.
The report has been published online and can be found here.