At the Parish meeting on Friday 5th January two plans were presented which were almost identical in concept. This was very confusing to attendees, and frustrating for us, as we had already presented our plan at MP Huw Merman’s working party only to have the majority of the content copied. It was suggested that the two ‘sides’ work together, so the following day we sent this email to Mrs Martin:
I thought the meeting was very positive last night but I think a lot of people left quite bemused as to why two, almost identical plans were being presented.
I’m glad you can now see the benefit of adding community hub services to the library. We need it to provide a lot more services for residents and, as I said last night, become the real hub of the Parish that it deserves to be.
The only concern you seem to have with my plan is one of governance. As you know CIC’s have their own regulations to follow much like CIO’s which we already comply with. When I established the CIC a year ago it was to start up one community project so only needed one director, however if we take over the management of Pevensey Bay Library we would add more directors, as I have already told you. More importantly, the director’s role is minimal, just having oversight of both projects. The actual management of Pevensey Community Hub and Library would be done by a locally formed management committee made up of local library users. We will be asking any library users who are interested in being part of the management committee to put themselves forward.
I would like to make a suggestion. I think the chances of saving our library would be greatly increased if we present one plan to the council. We already have a legal entity that can take this project forward. The plans are almost identical, but Volunteers Network CIC already has links with hundreds of community organisations in East Sussex that we can coordinate with in bringing more services into Pevensey. In addition, we already have enough volunteers to run the library until staff are appointed.
This ‘Plan B’ will only come into effect IF ESCC withdraw funding from our library, and our plan will work without ESCC funding, which yours won’t.
My suggestion is that rather than try to fight us at every step, work with us. As I have offered before, I am happy to meet with you and get your input into the plan.
The campaign you have run to try to get ESCC to continue funding has been excellent, but we are now talking about plan B and a much larger project. There is a lot of support for the model we have proposed and Volunteers Network CIC is a safe pair of hands that can evidence how well we work and how much we achieve.
I think that at this stage we need to work together to ensure the best outcome for our Parish.
I look forward to hearing from you.
This is the response we received:
Thank you for your email.
Yes, I believe it would be good if we could work together which is why at the Parish Meeting I invited Volunteer Network CIC to support a new charitable organisation of subscribing members that will have explicit objectives concerning the management and running of the library. I am disappointed that you have not taken up this invitation and I think rather than continue with arguments it is better for both proposals to go to the Parish Council.
Sadly we had to reply by pointing out that we simply don’t believe her plan is achievable, which is why we can’t support it. (Amongst other things a CIO cannot be formed within the time-frame we have, but we also believe moving the library to a porta-cabin on the beach is completely inappropriate).
Our organisation will always try to work collaboratively where possible, but sadly in this case we will be unable to join forces with Mrs Martin.
Two plans will be presented to Pevensey Parish Council on the 30th Jan. The important thing now is that the council agree funding in order to save the library if ESCC go ahead with their proposal to close it. Do come along to the Council meeting on the 30th to show your support!
We do want to point out however, that whilst we disagree with Mrs Martin’s ‘plan b’, we think she has led an excellent campaign to try to retain ESCC funding. She has worked tirelessly for our community and should be applauded for that.