Tim Coates' complaint against MLA upheld

<p>A complaint against the actions of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in relation to Swindon&#39;s proposed library closures brought by library consultant Tim Coates has been upheld in a report published today (27th July).<br /><br />The complaint dates back to mid-April, when the MLA briefed Swindon Council that a report written&nbsp; by Coates on the council&#39;s library services was &quot;poorly argued with no clear links between the data and [its] conclusions&quot;. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport asked the MLA to set up a panel hearing to consider the complaint.<br /><br />The investigating panel, chaired by MLA board member Glen Lawes, found that it was &quot;not in accordance with accepted standards&quot; for the MLA to have to have agreed to offer an analysis of Coates&#39; own report into Swindon libraries without informing Coates and giving him the opportunity to comment. The report also said that the MLA committed an &quot;error&quot; in privately supporting advice to Swindon Borough Council to decline using Coates&#39; consultancy services.<br /><br />The panel recommended that in future the MLA should provide its staff with terms of reference for engagement with local authorities, and that when making a formal analysis of a third party&#39;s work, the body should inform the author and give them an opportunity to respond to points of criticism. The report also recommended that the MLA should review its policies on confidentiality and the application of the Freedom of Information Act.<br /><br />MLA company secretary Paul Lander said: &ldquo;The MLA has accepted these recommendations and has already acted on them.&nbsp; In addition the MLA strongly supports the apology that Roy Clare [MLA chief executive] gave to Tim Coates on 5th April.&rdquo;</p>