MLA's Clare rejects Swindon plea

<p>Roy Clare, chief executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Commission (MLA), has rejected a call by a Swindon libraries campaigner to intervene over threatened cuts to four local libraries.</p><p>The planned cuts follow budget pressures on Swindon council. Local campaigner Shirley Burnham sent an email to Clare requesting his support, writing: &quot;Is it not true that &pound;50 million per year is spent on funding the MLA, now called the New MLA? We urge this body, which could be so effective, to start earning its living by asking Swindon Council to cut its excessive overhead charge to libraries, properly consul with residents, assess the needs of local communities and stop the closure of four highly-prized branch libraries.&quot;</p><p>In an email seen by <em>The Bookseller</em>, Clare told Burnham: &quot;The constitutional position is very clear; this is a matter for the local authority, not for central government or for its strategic agency - the MLA.&quot; Clare added that &quot;from the perspective of the MLA, the focus is on achieving better services (longer hours, more books and resources, improved digital provision, sharper training for those who provide the services), and not on keeping open older buildings and costly infrastructure. Indeed, some closures are essential because many buildings are a costly legacy from a century or so ago; there is now ample evidence that library services can be improved when local authorities are freed from the burden of carrying too great an overhead in terms of buildings.&quot;</p><p>Responding, Burnham invited Clare to visit Swindon to see the local issues first-hand, asking: &quot;If the closure of FOUR libraries is not worth investigation by the MLA, then what is worth investigating?&quot;</p>