Wanted 270 Trustees for 45 companies to run Suffolk Libraries...

When the Suffolk Libraries IPS was announced it was clear it was going to be a "membership" organisation made up of local library groups. Details of exactly how this will happen have started to emerge. In the County Council's best value evaluation back in November it was suggested that:
it is expected that there will be a number of independent local library organisations, i.e. local community groups, governing local libraries, either as incorporated organisations or constituted associations.
However it has since emerged that local library groups will need to be formally incorporated companies in order to qualify for membership. The rules of the IPS state that membership can be granted to:
any community based library group within Suffolk that supports the objects of the Society and is incorporated or, will be incorporated within six months of their application to become a Member of the Society as one of the legal forms acknowledged and accepted to the Society.
So they will need to be legally registered and have Directors. The model proposed is that these too will be "membership" organisations where the members will elect Directors who in turn elect the IPS Directors.

The diagram below tries to show this:

Bear in mind there are supposed to be up to 44 of these Library Groups! So up to 45 companies including the IPS itself and even if each Board only has 6 members a total of 270 trustees on boards....All this to run an organisation with around 170FTE staff. And on an individual level some smaller libraries have less than 1FTE staff but appear to need a Limited Company and Board of Directors to run them...

This seems to me a governance sledgehammer to crack a nut. Some of the proposed corporate structures will require reporting to both Companies House and the Charity Commission. Articles of Association, Memoranda of Incorporation,  Audited accounts etc etc Not to mention some kind of "service agreement" with the IPS, the best value document suggests that:
the relationship will be based on a commercial relationship where the IPS will provide services that the local libraries wish to purchase, encouraging all parties to act in a business-like fashion and encouraging the IPS to be demand-responsive. The IPS will develop a mechanism (such as a grant agreement) to agree an individual budget/service offer with each of the library organisations. 
So that is 44 individually negotiated agreements, some for tiny libraries.

This is not to say that I do not see a benefit to having local library groups and some of them may well be incorporated as they may perform another function such as the Wickham Market Partnership but for smaller libraries and communities that do not want to manage any staff or buildings these seem bureaucratic overheads.
suffolk libraries IPS 3837083599370152241

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