Hampshire County Council

 

Executive Member - Recreation and Heritage Policy

Item 4

 

21 September 2005

 
 

Recreation and Heritage Policy Review Committee Item 12

 

15 September 2005

 

Rural Discovery Centres

 

Report of the Director of Recreation & Heritage

Contact: Richard Ward Ext: 6621 richard.ward@hants.gov.uk,

This report is intended to assist meeting the following aims of the Corporate Strategy;

This report describes some new ideas in the way services might be provided to remote communities by establishing "Discovery Pods", that is Discovery Centres adapted for rural areas.

1. Introduction

1.1 A report commissioned for Community Action Hampshire in 1998 identified one of the indications of rural disadvantage being "limited access to, and additional costs associated with, essential services and facilities". Rural disadvantage is most likely to affect: disabled persons and carers; young people and children; elderly persons and lone parents. The report identified 11 parishes in Hampshire which were "most disadvantaged and deprived" and 22 parishes which were "most disadvantaged" (see Appendix 1).

2. Extending library services to the community

2.1 The Library and Information Service currently provides services at 54 static libraries and 19 mobiles. While this allows it to reach a large proportion of the population there may be further opportunities to extend the service to those living in rural areas.

2.2 There are two ways in which this could be achieved, creating "Discovery Pods" or "Library Hubs" in:

3. Services offered in these new style service points

3.1 The main elements of the service which could be offered would be:

3.2 The collections of books would include popular fiction and non-fiction, and books to reflect the particular site e.g. a collection of nature books at a country park. Local studies material would also be a feature as would a DVD collection. The Peoples Network computer usage has been very high in all libraries and extending this to the wider community would support Hampshire County Council's E-government agenda, as well as giving access to information databases. These databases not only provide up to date information on a number of topics but increasingly replace printed reference books. Staff assistance with enquiries would be handled on site and more complex enquiries could be referred to the nearest library.

3.3 The "hub", or "pod" could be a location for other agencies to place advice workers form time to time. Examples could include police surgeries, pension and retirement advice run by the Department for Work and pensions, housing advice, local councillor, MP or MEP surgeries.

4. Staffing

4.1 Staffing at these new libraries would vary according to the location. At a Recreation and Heritage site the existing staff could be trained to provide the basic elements of the service. At a community centre/ village hall volunteers could be used. A self-service element in computer use and lending books could be built in at the planning stage and would provide more flexible access to services.

5. Benefits to the public

6. Ways forward

6.1 The Library and Information Service working with colleagues across the Department has identified those parishes which are deemed "disadvantaged" and deprived". Further work needs to be done on identifying suitable Recreation and Heritage or community facilities which could accommodate a Discovery Pod.

6.2 At the moment there is no specific funding identified for this activity and initial work would need to be funded from existing resources. However, once outline costings have been determined partnership funding with local district councils should be sought as should grant monies from Central Government.

Recommendation

Section 100 D - Local Government Act 1972 - background papers

The following documents disclose facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of this report.

NB the list excludes:

1 Published works.

2 Documents which disclose exempt or confidential information as defined in the Act.

TITLE FILE

1.1 Parishes "most disadvantaged and deprived"

Candovers and Herriard (BDBC)

Steep (EHDC)

Denny Lodge and Martin (NFDC)

Little Somborne and Quarley TVBC)

Beauworth, Cheriton, Exton and Kilmeston (WCC)

1.2 Parishes "most disadvantaged"

Ecchinswell & Sydmonton (BDBC)

Appleshaw and Wherwell (TVBC)

Wickham (WCC)