AROUND a dozen library staff could lose their jobs as part of a restructuring project announced today (Wednesday). The threat to jobs comes from Cultural Community Solutions, part of the Carillion group, just a month after John Laing Integrated Services sold its interests to Carillion. The new contractors are, however, promising there will be no cuts to frontline staff or to the opening hours of the libraries. In fact, the company had no option on that front because protection for both is built into the contract with the council, agreed after the authority decided to privatise the running of the libraries. In addition to Croydon, Cultural Community Solutions runs libraries in Ealing, Harrow and Hounslow and in a statement issued on Wednesday, the company indicated the job losses were likely to come from the ranks of back room staff across all four boroughs.. The statement said: "As a result of significant developments in the way that local library services are now managed, Cultural Community Solutions has announced proposals for a new integrated staffing structure. "This will enable us to continue to deliver high quality library services across four London boroughs and ensure a sustainable future for the libraries." It added the proposed changes would take advantage of new technology and ways of working and focus on streamlining back room functions. It continued: "The new structure will protect opening hours and frontline roles as well as creating a number of new positions to focus on the delivery of community outreach and engagement to ensure the library services are accessible to all our communities "Regrettably these proposed changes will put a number of jobs at risk, but we are making every effort to ensure that these losses will be no more than one full time post per library. "We will also explore opportunities for redeployment across our wider business." The company said consultations had started with all affected staff and their unions. In addition to the central library in Katharine Street, Croydon, there are 12 branch libraries in the borough. Councillor Tim Pollard, the council's cabinet member with responsibility for culture, said: "It was always inevitable that new operators managing libraries in different ways would look at how they worked strategically. "It has also always been on the cards that the roles of some staff in the back office might change or posts made redundant." This, he said, was a consequence of the company looking at centralising some of its back room functions across the four boroughs. Cllr Pollard said: "The key thing from the public's point of view is that they are going to continue to get the library service they know and expect. That is protected through the contract."
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