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Monday, 30 November 2009

Council was in "breach of statutory duties" over library closures

Wirral News by Liam Murphy on Nov 30, 09 02:02 PM

A DAMNING report by libraries inspector Sue Charteris says Wirral Council was in breach of its statutory duties over its plans to shut 11 out of 24 libraries.

In her report Ms Chareris said: "the Inquiry has found the Council to be in breach of its statutory duties under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964, because it failed to make an assessment of local needs in respect of its Library Services".

The council revoked the plans at the end of September - although it was later revealed the authority had been given a draft copy of Ms Charteris report.

In the report, published today, Sue Charteris said: "I am also concerned that although the Act does not specifically cover the role of schools in library provision, the Council has not been able to demonstrate that it has had due regard to the general requirements of children which I consider to be a breach of its statutory duties."

The report, published by the DCMS says "the decision was made without a clear understanding of the extent and range of services currently being provided in the libraries".

In one of the most damning lines, Ms Charteris said the closures could be "better described as an indication of intent rather than a fully worked up plan" said it "risks being a partial response to need that would disadvantage relatively isolated and deprived communities. I therefore believe there to be a further breach in relation to the needs of deprived communities".

© copyright Liam Murphy . Reproduced under fair use for the dual purposes of comment and news reporting

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