Suffolk’s Libraries IPS interim board complete

ALL positions on the interim board set up to run Suffolk’s library service in partnership with local library groups have been filled.

Eight new board members – three more than originally planned - join the three founding members after being nominated by the local library groups they are members of. The first meeting of the full board will be held next week (15 February 2012).

The new members of the interim board bring a wide range of new skills and experience to library services in Suffolk. They are:

·        Charlotte Clark - staff nomination and from Southwold Library. Charlotte has worked in public libraries for over 17 years.  As manager at Southwold Library, she has helped expand the services delivered to the local community.

·        Marion Harvey - staff nomination and from Ipswich County Library. Marion has worked for Suffolk Libraries for 41 years, most recently as manager at Ipswich County Library where she has developed a range of cultural events including community music days, one of which attracted over 5,000 people to the library in just one day.

·        Ryan Jay – from Voices 4 Gainsborough Community Library. At 18, Ryan is the youngest member of the board but through running his own youth club, brings experience of securing external funding, running community events and fund raising.

·        Sylvia Knights - from Bungay Library Working Group. Sylvia brings years of senior management and domestic and international IT business experience. She is actively involved in Bungay Library – volunteering for the Home Library Service and delivering children’s activities.

·        Colin Owens - from the Wickham Market Partnership. Colin’s career spans the engineering and electrical supplies industries and he brings with him significant experience of project and financial management, business planning and building community links. As a Trustee of Wickham Market Partnership, he has been involved in several community based projects and currently leads the initiative to extend the services and value of Wickham Market Library. 

·        Michael Readman - from Stradbroke Parish Council and for the Eye, Debenham and Stradbroke pilot group. Michael spent 35 years in the financial services industry working in financial control, international trade and human resources roles. Now retired, he was also Vice President, HR Operations, at JP Morgan and a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

·        Robert Spivey - from Sudbury Town Council. Robert has held senior financial positions in major private and public sector organisations and has extensive experience of developing and implementing business plans. More recently he has served on a number of charity committees.

·        Graham Watson - from the Seckford Foundation. Graham is the Director of the Seckford Foundation and was previously Deputy Chief Executive of NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, an independent body with a mission to make the UK more innovative. Prior to this, Graham was Director of Finance and Support Services for the Princes Trust. Graham has extensive knowledge of charity law, tax regulation and governance issues.

They join Chairman Clive Fox and founding board members Mike Hosking and Shona Bendix and will be responsible for establishing the new, independent, Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) – which it was agreed in December 2011 would take forward Suffolk’s library service and run it in partnership with community groups. It will oversee the transfer of library staff and the negotiation of the contract with Suffolk County Council. The interim board will be replaced by a board elected by IPS members within 18 months.

The quality of applications for board positions was such that it was decided to increase the planned size of the interim board to secure the skills and commitment on offer.

Talking about the completion of the interim board, Clive Fox said:

"Since January, the founding members of the interim board have met in several locations and have been in constant communication to kick-start the process of forming Suffolk's Libraries IPS Ltd. We have met the managers from most of Suffolk’s 44 libraries. And we have started on a tour of all seven pilots which are testing the new approach to local management of libraries.

“But as we start to tackle the many complex issues of setting up this innovative, third-sector membership organisation that must also operate as an efficient business, we need the much wider range of knowledge and specialist skills we were seeking in the recruitment of additional board members. I was delighted to find that all those qualities were on offer to Suffolk's Libraries IPS in the nominations we received – so we had no hesitation in increasing the size of the board."  

Suffolk County Council will retain its statutory responsibility for library services and will continue to be accountable for ensuring a county-wide network is provided. The county council will also retain sufficient in-house libraries expertise to ensure the council’s legal duties are met.

The IPS will be transparent and publish its policies, board decisions and performance data. It will also honour its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act. The IPS will require similar levels of transparency from the community organisations it will work with.

By Andrew St Ledger on February 11th, 2012