<p>Wirral council's leader Steve Foulkes has condemned the Sue Charteris report on Wirral's library services as "fundamentally flawed in its logic" and "in any places . . . just plain wrong", according to a report in the Local Government Chronicle.</p><p>The journal also reports that the Local Government Association has condemned the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act as "fit for nothing but the archives".</p><p>The condemnations come shortly after the publication of the report from the Government-initiated inquiry into Wirral council's plan, now abandoned, to close 11 of its local libraries in a restructure of its service. Sue Charteris found that the Wirral plan had been "in breach of its statutory duties under the Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964" because the council "failed to make an assessment of local needs". Her findings have been widely welcomed by those who fear widespread cuts to branch libraries by cash-strapped councils.</p><p>But Councillor Foulkes said that keeping all the libraries open would cost £4.7m over three years and that the losers would be "the silent majority who do not use their library". Meanwhile Chris White, chair of the LGA's culture, tourism and sport board, said: "The LGA wants councils to be freed up to make decisions on how best to provide information services to local people without being judged according to laws drawn up half a century ago, before the arrival of the internet and digital media."</p><p>Yesterday it emerged that one of the questions raised in culture minister Margaret Hodge's new consultation paper on libraries, "Empower, Inform, Enrich", is: "Is it important that libraries remain a statutory obligation for local authorities?"</p><p>As a supplementary question, the paper asks: "Would the remove of statute allow greater flexibility for fundraising or different modes of operation currently off limits?" </p>
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