Innovation and Efficiency


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


There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

Please enter the code shown in the image into the box below
(note: this is case sensitive)

Can't read this one? Try another

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

Polls open in Scottish independence vote

18/09/2014Polls open in Scottish independence vote

The polls are open in Scotland as voting gets underway on the referendum for Scottish independence. They close tonight at 10pm with the final res... more >
Kerslake won’t rule out break-up of Birmingham

18/09/2014Kerslake won’t rule out break-up of Birmingham

Sir Bob Kerslake has refused to rule out recommending to ministers that Birmingham City Council should be broken up into smaller authorities. ... more >
Most PIP claimants still waiting for a verdict after 16 months

18/09/2014Most PIP claimants still waiting for a verdict after 16 months

Less than 40% of those who have tried to claim Personal Independence Payment have actually got the money or been rejected, with the majority stil... more >

editor's comment

01/08/2014Stones still unturned

England’s ‘Core Cities’ are becoming increasingly confident and aggressive in their calls for more powers, freedoms and budgetary control. Government rhetoric has long been on their side, and indeed as PSE was going to press the chancellor, George Osborne, turned up in Manchester to endorse the One North infrastructure propos... read more >

featured articles

View all News

last word

Unconscious bias: it’s all in the subtleties

Unconscious bias: it’s all in the subtleties

Over the years negative, hostile behaviour towards women at work has generally been deemed overt sexism and therefore unacceptable. However, the subtle and no less insidious sexism continues to fes... more > more last word articles >

the raven's daily blog

Is the BBC biased against Scottish independence?

15/09/2014Is the BBC biased against Scottish independence?

The referendum on Scottish independence is almost here: in just three days’ time, people living in Scotland will start casting votes and we will find out whether or not we shall stay a ‘United Kingdom’. Now in the home stretch, both campaigns are slinging accusations at the other as they try to find an edge in the race. ... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

featured events

The Future of Public Sector Property and Estates Conference 2014

23 Sep 2014 09:30

The Government is the UK's largest landowner and the public sector estate is valued at £3...

read more >

Project Challenge EXPO

14 Oct 2014 __:__

Free Entry – Leading Exhibitors – Inspiring Free Presentations Attendees gain ...

read more >

Risky Business 2014

13 Nov 2014 09:00

An annual cyber security conference and free networking event for the public and private sector...

read more >
view all events

events calendar


September 2014

mon tue wed thu fri sat sun
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23

The Future of Public Sector Property and Estates Conference 2014

23/09/2014 09:30 - 17:00

The Government has a vision to create an efficient, fit-for-purpose and sustainable estate that delivers value for money and facilitates flexible working. A key priority remains a reduction in the costs of public sector estates through effective management. Effective management of public sector estates presents a significant opportunity to increase efficiency, secure considerable savings and create modern places of work. To achieve this, a culture of mobile working and technology must be embraced to enable the public sector workforce to operate remotely to drive efficiency and deliver improvements.


CIPS Sustainable Purchasing and Supply Summit

24/09/2014 10:00 - 17:00

The only UK event to present an holistic view of sustainable procurement and the role of the supply chain in more responsible business and government.

25 26 27 28
29 30 1 2 3 4 5


Watching the nation’s wasteline

01/08/2014Watching the nation’s wasteline

Mark Rowney, research fellow at IPPR, explores the issues involved in cutting waste and stopping it going to landfill. At the end of July, West ... more >
Are public sector workers different?

01/08/2014Are public sector workers different?

Mirco Tonin and Michael Vlassopoulos, senior lecturers at the Economics Department of the University of Southampton, discuss their research on diff... more >
Cutting the cost of competitive tendering

01/08/2014Cutting the cost of competitive tendering

As the West Midlands Contractor Framework (WMCF) comes to a close this month, Tony Hyde, chairman at Thomas Vale, explains to PSE how working as pa... more >
The i-teams creating a new experimental government

01/08/2014The i-teams creating a new experimental government

Ruth Puttick, principal researcher on public and social innovation at Nesta, and co-author of the new Nesta and Bloomberg Philanthropies i-teams re... more >


Leading the electric charge: plug-in cars for government fleets

01/08/2014Leading the electric charge: plug-in cars for government fleets

The government has announced £5m funding to ‘lead by example’ to introduce more electric cars and vans across its fleets. PSE int... more >
Digital health innovation boosted in Bradford

01/08/2014Digital health innovation boosted in Bradford

Dr Liam Sutton, the University of Bradford’s head of knowledge transfer, talks about how a new programme of investment will help transform th... more >
Getting customer services right in tight times

01/08/2014Getting customer services right in tight times

Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, discusses a major new report into customer service standards in the public sector.... more >
Achieving a better-paid, better-trained social care workforce

01/08/2014Achieving a better-paid, better-trained social care workforce

David Pearson, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, talks to PSE about the challenges and opportunities facing socia... more >

public sector focus

View all News