I for one think its time we took a time out on issues like library closures, moved away from the “blame game” and engaged in some serious lateral thinking. We could also look at examples of good practice in some of our bigger rural counties. In the meantime I find this story depressing. It tells us:

Local authorities will face government action if they cannot justify library cuts, libraries minister Rob Wilson told librarians, peers and MPs at a packed meeting in the House of Lords to mark the launch of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Libraries (APPG).

In his strongest statement yet in defence of library services, Wilson said: “Councils really need to make these decisions based on robust evidence rather than being ad hoc and reactive.” He added: “I also expect councils to consider a full range of funding and delivery options before making significant cuts.”

At the meeting on Tuesday, the minister vowed to investigate if councils appeared to be failing their statutory duty under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act and added that the government would take action where needed. Under the act, local authorities must provide a “comprehensive and efficient” public library service. If they fail to do so, local authorities can be forced by ministers to take remedial action.

Wilson said councils should only sanction significant cuts after “actively consulting” local people and professionals on all options to save money.

His comments follow revelations by the Local Government Association that library services will be in the firing line as cash-strapped local authorities seek to plug a gap in funding of £5.8bn by 2020. The LGA claimed that two thirds of councils would be forced to shave millions off budgets after the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement, published in December, failed to provide additional government funding for the financial year from April 2018.

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