Westminster Council urged to re-think library cuts

CILIP, the library and information association has called on Westminster City Council to halt proposed cuts to the library budget of £750,000 a year until a proper public consultation has been carried out.

In an open letter CILIP CEO Nick Poole has written to Westminster Council Chief Executive Charlie Parker with concerns about the proposals and the impact it will have on communities and the local economy.

Nick Poole said, “Westminster Libraries are some of the best in the country, helping 140,000 people to set up a new business, tackling social isolation and exclusion and are cultural beacons in their communities providing space for exhibitions and performances, access to reading and unique archives. I am profoundly concerned about the impact of these budget reductions on the quality of services the public expect and deserve. Without question the Council should consult with the public and consider their views carefully.”

In the letter Nick Poole sets out the case for properly resourced and staffed libraries, saying “They play a crucial role providing access to information and knowledge, supporting small businesses and employment, improving health and well being and providing everyone with opportunities for learning and developing new skills.” He raises specific concerns about the apparent lack of public consultation about the impact of this budget reduction and seeks assurance that public consultation will take place and proposals will not be confirmed until the views of residents have been fully considered.

Following a House of Lords debate on the importance of libraries on the 13 October CILIP has warned about the pending impact of the Autumn Statement on Local Authority budgets. Nick Poole said, “Through My Library By Right CILIP is campaigning for the public’s rights to quality library services to be respected and for central and local Government to follow their duties under the law. Although libraries are statutory services their budgets are not ring-fenced, and while we wait for the Government to publish a robust strategy for public libraries in England I am concerned that under-pressure Councils will make ever deeper cuts.”

-ends-

Press contact

Mark Taylor
Director of External Relations, CILIP
Email: mark.taylor@cilip.org.uk
Tel: 020 7255 0654
Mobile: 07792 635 305

Notes for editors

CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is the leading voice for the information, knowledge management and library profession. Our goal is to put information and library skills at the heart of an equal, democratic and prosperous society by 2020. Registered charity no. 313014. www.cilip.org.uk