Conflicting Views Over Cost Of New Library Bookcases

New library under construction

New library under construction

The controversy over the Council’s decision to spend almost £24,000 on bookcases for the new library continues, with conflicting views from within the authority over whether or not the units exceeded the original budget.

In the Community Services meeting on 7th February, Director Penny Penn-Howard confirmed, in response to a question from a councillor, that the new bookcases were cheaper than the original shelving that had been specified.

However, Radio Scilly has learned that the original plan was to recycle shelving from the old library, and supplement these with new units for the additional books being stocked.

We understand this was £13,000 cheaper than the furniture now being purchased. But this was changed by Community Services officers, who felt that bookcases, rather than shelves, were required.

The contractor, Kier, eventually agreed to release around £10,000 set aside for the shelving and allow the Council to order its own.

A further £6,500 was added from the Community Services’ Extended Schools account, money normally used for children’s educational trips, with the remaining £6,500 coming from the Porthcressa Project funding.

The Council’s spokesman, George Pearson, said the shelving in the original specification wasn’t ideal for the job.

“It was basic aluminium supplied in industry standard lengths” said George, “and during the reconstruction of the Bulb Store it became clear that the unusual shape and size of the building would limit the number of these shelves that could be fitted, which in turn would restrict the planned-for extra capacity for new books and displays as well as hindering any future amendments to layout within the library.”

However, Diana Mompoloki from the Council’s Porthcressa Project team says that’s not what happened. She said the recycled shelving would have fitted into the library and there was sufficient shelving for the increased books being ordered.

Following further questions from Radio Scilly, the Council has decided not to confirm the final cost of the shelving being ordered.

During a debate last month on how to plug a £1.4m black hole in the Council’s finances, vice chairman Amanda Martin said there are “hard, painful decisions” to be made to balance the authority’s budgets.

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