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Petitions

Volume 590: debated on Thursday 8 January 2015

Petition

Thursday 8 January 2015

Observations

Communities and Local Government

Proposed changes to Penkridge Library (Staffordshire)

The Petition of members of the community in Penkridge and the surrounding area,

Declares that the Petitioners fully support Penkridge Library; further that the Petitioners recognise the important role that the library plays for all members of the local community; and further that a local Petition urging for the proposed changes to the library to be reconsidered was signed by over 3,000 individuals.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to encourage Staffordshire County Council to reconsider proposed changes to the library, and to keep Penkridge as a full-service library, staffed by trained librarians, offering a range of services, workshops and groups for all users.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Jeremy Lefroy, Official Report, 8 December 2014; Vol. 589, c. 750.]

[P001404]

Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Government acknowledge the important part that libraries play in local communities. However, we have no plans to change the statutory duty under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 that requires every library authority in England to provide a “comprehensive and efficient” library service for people in the local area. The Act provides a framework within which local authorities can operate and does not seek to be overly prescriptive.

The Government have urged councils to protect frontline services by sharing back office functions, cutting wasteful expenditure, improving procurement to get more for less, and bringing senior pay under control.

As democratically elected organisations local authorities are independent from central Government and are responsible for managing their financial budgets and for making spending decisions in line with their priority needs. Councils now have more power than ever before, but they need to act in their residents’ best interests.

Changes or revisions to library service provision are for Staffordshire County Council to determine, ensuring that the service is comprehensive and efficient, while based on local need and within available resources.