Move to hand York libraries to social enterprise

Libraries in York could be run by community or social enterprise, after the city's council agreed at a cabinet meeting last night (8th January) to explore the idea. The decision follows a six-week consultation last year.

The new structure could see the city's 13 libraries handed into the control of a community benefit society, a social enterprise with charitable status. While it would be primarily funded through the council with an annual fixed grant, it would also be able to receive other sources of funding.

The council is looking to make £250,000 savings from its library service in 2013/14.

Fiona Williams, head of City of York Council's library service told the BBC: "In these difficult times we would be remiss if we weren't looking at lots of differing options for how we provide services. We've looked at it and we believe it may offer some advantages."

But Andrea Dudding, general covenor for the Unison union in York, said: "We are opposed to social enterprises in public service in principle. Libraries are a statutory service and have to be comprehensive and efficient and outsourcing means the council has no control."

The council will make a decision in the summer following a further consultation with library staff and the public.


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