Libraries Minister to act against ‘unjustifiable’ cuts

Libraries Minister Rob Wilson has told the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Libraries that local authorities will face government action if they cannot justify library cuts.

Marking the launch of the APPG for Libraries, Wilson stated that he expected councils to consider a full range of funding and delivery options before making significant cuts, rather than being ‘ad hoc and reactive’. He also expressed a desire to see local authorities ‘actively consulting’ local people in the process.

Under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act, local authorities must provide a ‘comprehensive and efficient’ public library service, with local authorities facing remedial action from ministers if they fail to do so.

In 2016, the Chartered Institute of Librarians and Information Providers (Cilip) warned that over the next five years library closures could accelerate to almost 400, doubling the number that shut their doors over the past decade.

In January, Bury Council announced plans to close 10 of its 14 libraries in order to meet cuts of £32 million by 2020, Bristol announced cuts of £1.4 million to its library service and Plymouth announced the closure of almost two thirds of its 17 libraries.