Laura Sharman 20 March 2018

Council faces government probe into library cuts

Council faces government probe into library cuts image

Northamptonshire County Council is facing a government investigation over its decision to close 21 libraries.

Culture secretary Matt Hancock has launched the probe following concerns raised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information (CILIP) that the decision means the council will not be meeting its statutory legal duties.

The letter from Mr Hancock to the council states: ‘CILIP claim that the closure of a significant number of static libraries and the mobile library service, together with the establishment of independent libraries outside of the statutory service means that NCC is failing to deliver its statutory duty.

‘CILIP also claim that in making the decision NC failed to consider the option of a community managed library service within the statutory service.’

The inquiry will determine if the council is failing to provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ library service.

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: 'Our review of the library service in Northamptonshire was a necessary element of our budget-setting process for 2018/19 given the severe financial pressures the authority is facing, and is a service many other local authorities across the country have already reviewed.

'When we launched our library service review last October, we presented three options we believe each presented a comprehensive and efficient library service. These options carefully took account of value for money, geographical coverage, areas of need, usage and trends, accessibility, income generation, use of space and suitability of library premises for future development.

'As part of the decision-making process, we held a full and open 12-week consultation, during which we received feedback from more than 5,000 people, and we published Equality Impact Assessments for each individual library to consider the impact of the proposed changes.

'We are co-operating fully with the DCMS's analysis of our decision-making process by providing all of the relevant information requested.'

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