MLA's actions 'improper'

<p>The Museums, Libraries &amp; Archives Council (MLA) is holding a panel meeting on the 9th June to investigate the complaint made by library campaigner Tim Coates about the MLA&rsquo;s own actions in Swindon. </p><p>The Department for Culture, Media &amp; Sport (DCMS) asked the MLA to handle the formal complaint made by Coates to Jonathan Stephens, DCMS permanent secretary, last month. Two MLA board members and one independent individual will sit on the investigating panel. </p><p>The complaint relates to the contentious library closures planned in Swindon. Coates prepared a report for Swindon council, advising that the council could achieve targeted savings of &pound;100,000 by cutting management costs instead of closing libraries. His recommendations were not accepted by the council. However, it later emerged that Swindon Council received &ldquo;independent advice&rdquo; about Coates&rsquo; report, which claimed Coates&rsquo; analysis was &ldquo;poorly argued with no clear links between the data and [its] conclusions&rdquo;. Following an inquiry from Coates, MLA chief executive Roy Clare confirmed it had issued the critique.</p><p>In his letter to the DCMS, Coates wrote: &ldquo;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.&rdquo;</p><p>A Museums, Libraries &amp; Archives Council spokesperson said the complaint will be looked at &ldquo;thoroughly&rdquo;. He added: &ldquo;We must respect confidentiality and be careful not to prejudge or undermine a fair process, so it would not be appropriate to say more at this stage.&rdquo;&nbsp; </p><p><strong>Second MLA row</strong><br />A further controversy has developed relating to comments made by MLA chair Andrew Motion at a board meeting in November last year. Minutes of the MLA meeting recorded Motion as saying that there was &quot;scope&rdquo; to find &quot;some common ground&rdquo; with MP Lyn Brown, who has criticised the MLA. But, the minutes continued: &quot;The same could not always be said for some of the sector&rsquo;s most vociferous self-appointed critics, and the MLA was not keen to give a platform to those without a constructive agenda.&rdquo; Coates said he has sought, but not received, an explanation. </p><p>The MLA declined to say what it meant by &quot;self-appointed critics&rdquo;. But an MLA spokesperson said that Brown &quot;legitimately represent[s] a body of public opinion&rdquo;. He added that the MLA has &quot;limited resource&rdquo; and &quot;should devote its time and attention working with interested parties who have a constructive agenda and responsibility to improve library services&mdash;key amongst these is local government, which is locally accountable to the public and elected by the public.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p>