Local authorities have a duty to provide a comprehensive and efficient service that meets local needs within available resources. The Government fully recognise the importance and significance of public libraries for local communities.
I thank the Minister for that response. My local authority, Labour-run Rochdale Borough Council, has endeavoured to keep all our public libraries open, recognising their importance to our communities. They are much more than just books; they are information, support and advice centres. I hold surgeries at our libraries, as does the citizens advice bureau. What action will the Minister take to support such good practice and, in the face of further cuts, how will he ensure its sustainability?
I was delighted to see that the Manchester combined authority, which includes Rochdale, received £250,000 from the libraries opportunities for everyone fund. I will continue to work with the libraries taskforce to extend benchmarks, toolkits and best practices, and to look at different models of delivering services to ensure that libraries continue to thrive, as we see in Rochdale.