Doing things differently - Flintshire's successes
Flintshire has been going through a big period of change. Due to financial pressures, where reductions in budgets mean hard choices and the possible loss or reduction of services, alternate delivery models (ADMs) have proved to be a solution to keeping services alive whilst managing the budget.
As an innovative and forward-thinking local authority - Flintshire continues to lead the way by encouraging its professional teams to break new ground with innovative ideas.
We have worked with a number of community groups on several successful Community Asset Transfers (CATs). Public assets transferred from Council ownership to community or charitable groups to be run for the benefit of the community have so far included a community centre, libraries, leisure centres and a swimming pool.
In March 2016, Gwernymynydd Village Centre was taken over by the Village Centre Management Committee on behalf of the community following the completion of a formal agreement with the Council.
Other former Council facilities which had already transferred to community groups under the CAT scheme include Carmel Village Hall and Caerwys public conveniences.
Since May last year, Castell Alun High School and the Friends of Hope Community Library have operated a community run library and school library in Hope Library at Castell Alun High School.
In May last year, Connah’s Quay Swimming Pool was taken over by the social enterprise, Cambrian Aquatics. The swimming pool has operated successfully and new swimming programmes and other initiatives have been introduced and take-up has been positive.
Flintshire continues to break new ground with the latest and most ambitious alternate delivery model announced recently. This involves a new way of providing leisure and library services through an employee-led Community Benefit Society. This was given a massive ‘thumbs-up’ from the workforce following a landslide vote in the workforce ballot.
Turnout was 92.5% among leisure and library employees with a resounding 90% yes vote for the proposal to set up a Community Benefit Society to run from 1 July 2017. This employee-led Community Benefit Society is the first of its kind to run leisure and library services in the UK.
The business plan shows that in the first full year over £500,000 of savings can be made to the service operation while Flintshire County Council is making a capital investment of almost £1m to improve leisure and library buildings, play areas and artificial pitches in the county.
The overall model aims to provide savings of 10% year on year while maintaining and improving existing service levels and protecting jobs. Employees will be represented on the Board of the organisation.
The new organisation and the Council will work openly and transparently together with co-operative values and will meet twice a year through a partnership board.
The Leader of the Council, Councillor Aaron Shotton, said:
“This organisation will be one of the few employee-led organisations operating leisure and library services in the United Kingdom and the level of employee support shown by the recent vote is unique. The Community Benefit Society will be able to demonstrate the value of employees being at the heart of an organisation and help shape models of public service delivery for the future that show how services at risk can be protected while achieving financial and service requirements and retaining accountability to the public and the workforce.”
Mike Welch, the Managing Director of the employee-led organisation, said:
“Everyone has worked so hard over the past few months to achieve this historic result and I am immensely proud to be leading this new organisation. We believe our colleagues will rise to the challenge. No-one is better placed than them to be able to identify improvements and innovations in service delivery for the benefit of our customers. We will work together and concentrate on our core business and our vision “More people, more active minds and bodies, more often.” The future looks bright and exciting for leisure and libraries in Flintshire.”