Eastern Regional Libraries to become new enterprise

Yarra Ranges Councillors have voted to wind up Eastern Regional Library Corporation and create a beneficial enterprise. Picture: ON FILE

By Parker McKenzie

Yarra Ranges Council, alongside Knox City Council have agreed to fast-track the movement of winding up Eastern Regional Library Corporation for it to be replaced by a beneficial enterprise called Your Library Ltd.

Under the Local Government Act 2020, existing regional library corporations must be wound up before the expiry of a period of 10 years and be replaced by beneficial enterprises — a business or trading activity undertaken by local government.

on Tuesday 28 July, Councillor Andrew Fullagar moved a motion at a Yarra Ranges Council general meeting to wind up Eastern Regional Library and adopt the beneficial enterprise proposal.

“Councillors don’t have a lot of choice in this particular decision. Our legal team has advised our actions comply and the risks are acceptable,” he said.

“Council is now ready to make this step and I put it to the rest of the councillors.”

Councillor David Eastham said the one thing Yarra Ranges Council had a say in was how quickly it acted to move on proposed changes.

“I believe we were given 10 years but all the discussions I was privy to — I should mention I was a member on the board for the first year of my councillor term – highlighted getting onto this early and providing certainty,” he said.

“I’d take this moment to thank the collaborative efforts between the staff at Eastern Regional Library and the other representatives from Knox and Maroondah, working to a great outcome.”

At a Knox City Council meeting on 27 June, Councillor Yvonne Allred said following recent changes to the Local Governments Act, Eastern Regional Library’s executives and council representatives on the board have been thorough in their approach to ensure the council complies with the legislation and the newly established corporation is reflective of the current regional library services.

“Each member council will appoint two members to the board of Your Library Ltd, which will remain Councillors Timmers-Leitch and myself,” she said.

“I’m of the opinion council is well-positioned to move towards the outlined beneficial enterprise model as proposed in the report, and ensure the ongoing high performance of service.”

She said Eastern Regional Library Corporation had a $2 million surplus mainly due to reduced services during the Covid-19 pandemic, which will be placed in a reserve account and used to acquire, refurbish and maintain library facilities.

The motion to transition to a beneficial enterprise and to support the establishment of the reserve account was passed unanimously.

Eastern Regional Library services three local government areas: Knox, Yarra Ranges and Maroondah. A corporate representative from each will be appointed to the board.

Councillors Marcia Timmers-Leitch and Yvonne Allred from Knox and Mayor Jim Child and Councillor Andrew Fullagar from Yarra Ranges Council will be appointed as inaugural directors of Your Library Ltd.