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Closure of Burnage Library (Manchester)

Volume 564: debated on Monday 17 June 2013

The Petition of a resident of the UK,

Declares that Manchester City Council has proposed to close Burnage Library; further that local residents are opposed to this decision and that the council should reverse its plans.

The Petitioner therefore requests that the House of Commons urges Manchester City Council to reverse its plans to close Burnage Library.

And the Petitioner remains, etc.—[Presented by Mr John Leech, Official Report, 25 March 2013; Vol. 560, c. 1437.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport:

The Government are committed to championing the public library service. Libraries can and do contribute to a range of local and national government priorities including assisting people to access a range of educational materials, to find employment and work with parents, schools and colleges to support education and learning agendas. All these connections can have positive benefits for communities.

The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 requires all library authorities to provide a comprehensive and efficient library service based on local need within available resources. The assessment, funding and provision of library services, including issues such as opening hours, are therefore for local authorities to determine. Decisions about Burnage library are a matter for Manchester City Council, and the Department notes that the Council Executive has recently agreed that the six local libraries including Burnage originally identified for closure should not now close on 29 June. This is to allow flexibility for work to be undertaken with community groups to develop a local solution for each of the areas affected and the Council anticipate that the community plans for each library should be in place by the end of June if not sooner.

The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has a duty under the Act to superintend the delivery of library services by local authorities. A number of local authorities have announced plans to reconfigure their library services, and we monitor progress on plans, including those of Manchester City Council. Where the Government considers that a local authority is no longer providing a comprehensive and efficient service, it has the power to order an inquiry.

The Government continue to support libraries and have transferred the responsibilities for the development and improvement of public libraries to Arts Council England (ACE). Two significant publications produced by ACE this year include, “Envisioning the library of the future” and “Community libraries—Learning from experience: guiding principles for local authorities”. The former of these two was published on 23 May and was a major research project undertaken over the past year to help library staff, funders and users to better understand what libraries could and should look like in the future. The latter publication was issued on 22 January and will assist local authorities who are considering reviewing the delivery of their library services to work with their communities.