Joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Customer Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council)
The Committee considered a joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director for Families and Communities and Chief Operating Officer – Resources, giving details of the Annual Report for 2016/17 (schedule 1 to the signed minutes) which had been produced in accordance with the Joint Agreement.
The Annual Report provided an account and review of the work and performance of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service for the financial year from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017.
This was the second year in the current three-year planning cycle for the service. The report highlighted some significant achievements towards meeting the overall strategic objectives of the service within the current Forward Plan 2015-2018 including:- (i) developing an active partnership approach; (ii) delivering resilience and sustainability; (iii) reaching an engaging with a wide range of people and building new audiences; (iv) sharing knowledge across the UK and; (v) increasing online presence and remote access.
It had been a very productive year for the service in terms of performance, achievements and associated activity with the most notable successes being (i) the award of a stage 1 Heritage Lottery pass for the Staffordshire History Centre and (ii) acquisition and cataloguing of collections such as the Minton Archive located at the City Archives facility.
With regard to (i) above, a project Board and Project Team had been established comprising representatives of both Authorities, William Salt Library Trustees, Friends Group and other stakeholders. The first phase of the project had focussed on the appointment of consultants and a design team in order to develop the proposals. In the coming year, plans were to be prepared in readiness for submission of a Phase 2 application. The Archive Service were to undertake further fund raising to meet a £150,000 match funding requirement and Friends Groups would seek to raise £50,000. Subject to these amounts being raised, £3.9m would become available from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
With regard to (ii) above, following a series of negotiations, between the City Archivist and the Trustees of the Queen Royal Lancers the archive of the 16th/5th Lancers, a regiment with a long associated with the County and City had been deposited with the Archive Services to be held at Stoke-on-Trent City Archives.
Overall, the proportion of catalogues which had either been fully or partially made available on line had increased from 1.6% to 94.38% of all collections.
With regard to take-up of services by the public, 2016/17 had seen further falls in personal visits to reading rooms by 20% and hits on the Archive Service’s main website by 8.3%. However, visits to Staffordshire Names Indexes and Minton Archive Microsite had increased by 13.8%. In addition, the number of volunteers remained high at 124 which totalled 8,516 hours or 4.4 full time equivalent members of staff. Notwithstanding these statistics, efforts had continued to be made to promote the service online particularly using social media with Facebook ‘likes’ having increased by 25% and Twitter ‘followers’ by 40%.
The Committee noted that the Service had produced good performance results against its local targets for public service delivery and had achieved a 100% customer satisfaction rating in the national survey of visitors to British Archives.
The report highlighted the various other projects, initiatives and activities which had been undertaken during the year including (i) the Great War Centennial Commemoration including the Staffordshire Appeals; (ii) Wills Indexing Project; (iii) strategic support offered to Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council; (iii) conservation support offered to Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council; (iv) historic documents deposited at Lichfield record Office and; (v) continued conservation of the Sutherland Archive.
In the discussion which ensued the Chairman paid tribute to the work of the Service and the excellent results which it had achieved over the year. She commented that the success which had been achieved in attracting volunteers was particularly encouraging not least because of the on-going pressure on budgets.
RESOLVED – That the report be received and noted.