Coates makes MLA complaint

<p>Library campaigners have hit out after the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) issued a confidential critique of a report compiled for Swindon Council by consultant Tim Coates. Coates has written a formal letter to Jonathan Stephens, permanent secretary at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, requesting a full Departmental investigation into the MLA&#39;s actions.</p><p>In the report, Coates advised Swindon that it could achieve its target of saving &pound;100,000 in its library service by cutting management costs instead of by closing libraries, but his recommendations were not accepted by the council. However, it has emerged that Swindon Council received &quot;independent advice&quot; about Coates&#39; report, which claimed Coates&#39; analysis was &quot;poorly argued with no clear links between the data and [its] conclusions&quot;.<br /><br />Swindon Council initially refused to divulge who had written the report, but following an inquiry from Coates, the MLA&#39;s chief executive Roy Clare confirmed that it had issued the critique.</p><p>In his letter to the DCMS, Coates said his report on the situation in Swindon &quot;has been well received by outside commentators and other councils who recognise the issue as genuine and of wider concern and application&quot; and that the MLA critique of his report was &quot;in my view, unprofessional and of low standard and in some places absurd, and appears to me not to address the budget matters in Swindon at all&quot;.</p><p>He added: &quot;I believe that the MLA has acted improperly, without professional integrity, without proper regard for the public interest and without the due care to my professional reputation to which I am entitled.&quot;</p><p>Coates has been backed by Shirley Burnham, chair of Swindon&rsquo;s Save Old Town Library Campaign, who has complained to MLA chief Clare, describing the move as a &quot;very sorry and shameful state of affairs&quot;. </p><p>The MLA declined to comment.</p>