Innovation and Efficiency

06.11.12

Councils ‘failing’ in statutory duties over libraries

Some local authorities have drawn up cost-saving plans cutting down on their library services without taking proper account of local needs, a new report warns.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee says some councils are in danger of failing in their statutory duty.

Instead of a change of legislation, the committee recommends spreading guidance encouraging a broader and more permissive interpretation of the ‘comprehensive and efficient’ requirement.

This does not necessarily mean keeping open all existing library branches, but greater coordination with other service providers and other councils would significantly benefit communities.

The report states that a wholesale transfer of services to volunteer groups is unlikely to meet the statutory criteria, and councils must continue to give volunteers necessary support to maintain service.

John Whittingdale MP, chair of the committee, said: “Library services are about much more than buildings, and the most important issue is finding creative ways to preserve – and, if possible, enhance – library services.

“Reductions in opening hours and the loss of professional staff may damage the service more than the closure of particular buildings, even though of course premises are key to accessible, comprehensive provision.

“Although the current crisis may appear to bode ill for the future of public libraries, it also presents an opportunity for a thorough reassessment of their role and of the way they are organised. During this inquiry we saw many examples of innovative thinking about what libraries can offer to the local population, and a number of models of how those services might be provided.

“At the moment councils appear to be somewhat in the dark about what is expected of them and are making decisions which are being overturned by judicial review. This is an expensive, undemocratic and generally unsatisfactory way of making policy. Councils need to be given the support and advice they need to consult locally and develop a service that meets the needs of the local community and complies with their obligations.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Unions say referendum shows a divided nation

24/06/2016Unions say referendum shows a divided nation

Public sector trade unions said the historical vote for the UK to leave the EU showed how divided the country has become. Dave Prentis, gene... more >
Devolved bodies warn about loss of EU funding

24/06/2016Devolved bodies warn about loss of EU funding

After today’s historical vote for the UK to leave the European Union, a number of England’s devolved bodies have raised concerns abou... more >
Scottish government preparing legislation for independence referendum

24/06/2016Scottish government preparing legislation for independence referendum

Scotland will begin preparing the legislation to seek another referendum on becoming independent after Britain voted to leave the EU. The re... more >

editor's comment

01/02/2016Weather warning

This edition of PSE goes to press just as Storm Imogen begins to subside. This latest barrage of winter weather caused yet more disruption to transport and power networks, but thankfully less permanent damage than earlier storms in late 2015 and the beginning of this year.  The fourth and fifth ‘named storms’ of this seas... read more >

last word

Is there a glass ceiling for ethnic minorities in the Civil Service?

Is there a glass ceiling for ethnic minorities in the Civil Service?

Richard Norrie, Research Fellow at Policy Exchange, explains how a new project will attempt to quantify the extent of ethnic minority representation in the Civil Service. The idea of a glass... more > more last word articles >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

We must avoid ‘hasty decisions’ to protect business and jobs following EU vote – CIPD

24/06/2016We must avoid ‘hasty decisions’ to protect business and jobs following EU vote – CIPD

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, the professional body for HR and people development, says that the government must take time to assess the impact of the decision to leave the EU Now that the British people have had their say on Britain’s future relationship with the EU and vote... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Councils losing millions by failing to clamp down on people who gift assets to avoid care home costs

20/06/2016Councils losing millions by failing to clamp down on people who gift assets to avoid care home costs

Peter King, Partner at law firm Nockolds, analyses why county councils have not been enforcing deprivation of asset regulations as rigorously as ... more >
Providing inspiration for a better work-life balance

15/06/2016Providing inspiration for a better work-life balance

Carl Fillery, CEO of Boundless (formerly CSMA Club), discusses the increasing financial and time pressures placed upon public sector workers and ... more >
Investing now to save in the future

14/06/2016Investing now to save in the future

Sheryl French, project director, energy investment unit, at Cambridgeshire County Council, explains how the national RE:FIT programme has enabled... more >
What water market reforms mean for the public sector

13/06/2016What water market reforms mean for the public sector

As significant water market reforms edge ever closer, Adam Cooper, director of retail market opening at Ofwat, explains what these changes will m... more >

interviews

Joint ventures: Are we better together?

19/04/2016Joint ventures: Are we better together?

Vivien Holland, local government advisory director at Grant Thornton UK LLP, examines the potential of Joint Ventures for local authorities going... more >
London needs a new deal to tackle the housing crisis

13/04/2016London needs a new deal to tackle the housing crisis

Tackling the capital’s housing crisis will require co-operation across all levels of government and a coherent devolution deal, according t... more >
What would Brexit mean for UK public agencies?

07/04/2016What would Brexit mean for UK public agencies?

Anand Menon, professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London, looks at the potential impact of Brexit on public... more >
Local government as a platform: The power to transform

16/02/2016Local government as a platform: The power to transform

Leigh Whitehouse, joint chief executive at Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, explains how Government as a Platform can be the catalyst for c... more >

public sector focus

View all News