Agenda item

Joint Archives Service: Annual Report 2019/20

Joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council).


The Committee considered a joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) giving details of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archives Service: Annual Report 2019/20 (schedule 1 to the signed minutes) which had been produced in accordance with the Joint Agreement between the two Authorities.


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 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.


This was the second year of the new three-year planning cycle. Notable achievements towards meeting the strategic objectives in the current Forward Plan 2018-2021 included:- (i) launch of the Staffordshire Tithe Maps online; (ii) delivery of the touring exhibition ‘On Your Doorstep’ taking collections across Staffordshire; (iii) securing a Round 1 pass from National Heritage Lottery  Fund (NHLF) for the revised Staffordshire History Centre project; (iv) continuing to deliver the Asylum and Bawdy Courts projects and; (v) working with a large number of volunteers to deliver projects, cataloguing and indexing of collections.


In addition, the need to close the onsite public service and enable staff to work from home during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic had been completely unexpected. However, their willingness to support the Authorities’ response and ability to adapt to the on-going situation was noted.


The Archive and Heritage Service collected detailed statistics about all areas of its work covering personal, distance and online use of the service. The five indicators used to measure performance included:- (i)           Use of the Service; (ii) Attendances at Events, Talks, Education and Community Visits; (iii) Volunteer Hours; (iv) Customer Satisfaction and (v) Collecting Activity. Members noted that personal use had declined by 5% when adjusted to take account of the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. This mirrored a national trend across all Local Authority Archive Services. In addition, some of the Staffordshire websites had seen a dip in activity which was partly attributed to a change in the method of data collection. However, overall, the use of the on-line services had increased by 16% following the high number of hits on the Find My Past webpage.   


Attendances at events had been much lower compared to the previous year owing to the absence of external funding. Similarly volunteer hours were down by 9% owing to the suspension of the service during the pandemic. However, Members were pleased to note that customer satisfaction, as measured by the National Distance User Service, for the enquiry service and advance information was high at 96% although no overall customer satisfaction rating was available.


Overall, the service had made good progress against its 10-year vision.


Members noted that the Risk Register had been reviewed and updated in accordance with the recommendations of the Internal Audit inspection undertaken in May 2018. The highest risk rating score (4 out of a possible 9) related to loss or damage of collections and the majority of changes were as a result of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic.  The Directors highlighted that Risk No. 14 – “Impact of a pandemic on service delivery”, (previously Risk No. 13) had been updated in light of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic including appropriate mitigation measures.  


RESOLVED – (i) That the report be received and noted.


(ii) That the revised Risk Register for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Joint Archive Service be approved.

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