William Eichler 05 February 2016

Councils could be ‘breaking the law’ by closing libraries, warn Unite.

Councils could be ‘breaking the law’ by closing libraries, warn Unite. image

Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide 'comprehensive and efficient' library services, and may be contravening this by shutting down libraries, the union warned yesterday.

Over 400 libraries have been closed down in the last five years because, Unite argue, they are seen as 'a soft target' by local authorities trying to find savings in the face of Government cuts.

The latest figures published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) show that in March 2011 there were 4,340 libraries in England, Scotland and Wales.

In March 2015 that figure had dipped to 3,917 - a loss of 423 libraries.

Fiona Farmer, Unite national officer for local government, said: ‘The 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act outlines the statutory duty incumbent on councils to provide a quality library service and the legal obligation of the culture secretary John Whittingdale to improve public libraries in England.’

Ms. Farmer continued: ‘We are asking government to keep our libraries open, reverse the council cuts, and have a fair funding formula for local authorities.

‘It needs to be highlighted that local authorities have a statutory obligation to provide comprehensive library services as a quality service for communities.

‘Libraries are a beacon of hope and practical assistance for people wishing to improve their literacy - we have one of the lowest levels in the developed countries; for those seeking employment; and as centres for strengthening community ties.’

An umbrella group called Speak Up For Libraries is staging a lobby of parliament on Tuesday 9 February and they will be joined by Unite members from Greenwich and Bromley library services who are taking industrial action at the proposed cuts to their respective libraries

For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Director of Children's Safeguarding and Care 

Gloucestershire County Council
Up to £116,391, plus relocation support
We are looking to fill this vital role at a very important time for us.  Our children’s services team is on an important journey of... Gloucestershire
Recuriter: Gloucestershire County Council

Corporate Director

Ceredigion County Council
£97,294 - £104,086
We are looking to recruit an ambitious and truly transformational leader to support the delivery of modernised and sustainable services to... Penmorfa, Porthmadog
Recuriter: Ceredigion County Council

Street Works Co-ordinator

Lincolnshire County Council
£21,153 - £23,791
Do you want to make a difference to how Street Works are managed within Lincolnshire? Lincolnshire
Recuriter: Lincolnshire County Council

Community Co-ordinator (Health inequalities)

Brent Council
£32,418 - £34,209 p.a. inc.
The successful candidate will have evidenced experience of working in a community environment. Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Homelessness Prevention and Relief Officer

Brent Council
£32,418 - £34,209 p.a. inc. (pro-rata)
You must have an understanding of homelessness legislation, and an ability to learn legislation quickly with training, coupled with... Brent, London (Greater)
Recuriter: Brent Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue