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

'Significant failings' in Civil Service pensions administration

11/02/2016'Significant failings' in Civil Service pensions administration

Civil servants experienced “hardship and distress” due to problems with their pensions after the company that administers the pension... more >
Public sector ‘unprepared’ for climate change risks – Carbon Trust

11/02/2016Public sector ‘unprepared’ for climate change risks – Carbon Trust

Public sector organisations across the UK are ‘largely unprepared’ for climate change risks, such as flooding, according to new resea... more >
Local authorities urged to work with childminder agencies

10/02/2016Local authorities urged to work with childminder agencies

A children’s charity is working with the Department for Education to encourage local authorities to form strong partnerships with childmind... more >

editor's comment

01/12/2015Public notice

As PSE was going to press, we were still awaiting the local government financial settlement. This has rarely made for happy reading in recent years.  With the number of rabbits-pulled-out-of-hats that George Osborne managed in the Spending Review, perhaps we should be more confident than usual about what the DCLG and Treasury have in... read more >

last word

What’s needed to make public services more responsive to local needs?

What’s needed to make public services more responsive to local needs?

Nehal Davison (pictured), senior researcher at the Institute for Government, discusses how a new project will explore what attempts have been made to integrate public service delivery at a local ... more > more last word articles >
149x260 PSE Subscribe button

the raven's daily blog

How public bodies can help small charities during commissioning

10/02/2016How public bodies can help small charities during commissioning

Jack Hunter, a researcher at IPPR North, looks at how smaller charities are faring in the current climate, and how they can be helped to serving their communities. Sometimes, as the song goes, you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone – and unless public leaders change the way they commission services, we... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Tackling fuel poverty – a partnership approach

22/12/2015Tackling fuel poverty – a partnership approach

Christine Tate, head of corporate social responsibility at British Gas, writes for PSE. With winter firmly upon us, many public sector housi... more >
Academisation: The rhetoric and the reality

21/12/2015Academisation: The rhetoric and the reality

Independent schools adviser Stephen Rayner discusses the practical challenges facing councils and schools surrounding the drive for more conversi... more >
National procurement strategy – one year on

18/12/2015National procurement strategy – one year on

Cllr David Simmonds CBE, who chairs the LGA’s Improvement and Innovation Board and is deputy chair of the LGA, explains the work going on a... more >
Transforming empty homes into affordable alternatives

18/12/2015Transforming empty homes into affordable alternatives

Helen Williams, chief executive of Empty Homes, on why the organisation will be looking at how local authorities and housing providers are invest... more >

interviews

TfN aims to take the burden off under-pressure councils

14/12/2015TfN aims to take the burden off under-pressure councils

David Brown, the recently appointed chief executive of Transport for the North, explains why it is important the north speaks with a single, clea... more >
A more unified approach needed for devolution: Lord Kerslake

08/12/2015A more unified approach needed for devolution: Lord Kerslake

Lord Kerslake, who chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Reform, Decentralisation and Devolution, talks about the emerging themes f... more >
‘LGA will have to earn its corn’: Interview with Mark Lloyd

03/12/2015‘LGA will have to earn its corn’: Interview with Mark Lloyd

Mark Lloyd, the new CEO at the Local Government Association (LGA), says that retaining councils as members depends on representing them effective... more >
Single-word judgements ‘inappropriate’ for complex children’s services

13/10/2015Single-word judgements ‘inappropriate’ for complex children’s services

Alison O’Sullivan, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS), talks to PSE about the challenges facing ... more >

public sector focus

View all News