Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Pete Gascoigne (Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust): Libraries in trust - the inside view

Defining public value - looks at equity in service delivery, legitimacy, efficiency, capability, what customers *really* want, national and regional studies
Wigan's trust established in 2003. Includes catering and grounds maintenance trading companies
Trust provides all leisure and cultural services in the borough
Turnover about £30m
Council retains assets: Trust acts as tenant, operator and strategic adviser
NNDR on buildings £600k
Reason: need to improve services
50th most-deprived borough - long-term ill health/incapacity issues
Borough has ca 305k citizens
Efficiency of delivery is key
Meeting more performance benchmarks since moving to Trust
Customer satisfaction improved
13% increase in visits/14% increase in opening hours over last five years
Restructured to improve management capability
Project development officer brings in £100k p/a above his salary
Rebranding and refurbs - lots of investment
Consultation on community needs when developing vision for service
Used a market research company to talk to non-users
Inform, consult, involve, devolve
Two "outreach" libraries run by the community

I'm still a little unclear about why Trust status, specifically, allowed Wigan to do what they've done. Yes, there were some fundamental changes made to the structure of the service etc, but could they still have been made under the council's umbrella? Still, their story is a good one: it's about talking to customers and reengineering the service to fit their needs.