Vaizey announces authorities for library support programme

Vaizey announces authorities for library support programme

<p>Lewisham, which is proposing the closure of five libraries, is among three dozen local authorities which will participate in culture minister Ed Vaizey&#39;s new library support initiative: now called &quot;The Future Libraries Programme&quot;. The authorities are grouped into 10 areas led by Northumberland, Bolton, Bradford, Lincolnshire, Suffolk, Oxfordshire, Herefordshire, Cornwall, Lewisham and Kensington &amp; Chelsea.</p><p>The areas were chosen &quot;for their individual strengths, type of project, geographical spread and rural and urban mix,&quot; said the Department for Media, Culture and Sport. The DCMS added that the authorities would &quot;have the chance to test drive an ambitious change programme&quot; to &quot;achieve cost savings, new partnerships and governance models, and to take advantage of digital opportunities.&quot;</p><p>Vaizey said the enthusiasm from library authorities across the country had been &quot;overwhelming&quot;. &quot;The response demonstrates just how vital library services are to people and communities and that leaders in local authorities are keen to develop their full potential in new and forward-thinking ways,&quot; he added.</p><p>The projects being explored include a plan to develop community libraries in Suffolk, run by local groups supported by an online service, and another in Bradford to redevelop existing library sites to include shops alongside the library facilities. </p><p>But Tim Coates, chair of campaign group Libraries for Life for Londoners, expressed &quot;frustration and profound disappointment&quot; at the announcement. &quot;The huge fear is that 1,000 libraries could be lost in the budget cuts and this programme has done nothing to reduce that risk,&quot; he said. &quot;The plans are full of vague government agendas and wishlists. What is needed is for each project to be interrogated against the basic requirements: when will the book stock improve? when will the opening hours increase? when will budgets be presented clearly so that economies can be made from those actitivities which do not affect the quality of service?&quot;</p><p>The Museums Libraries and Archive Council (MLA) and the Local Government Association Group (LGA Group) are to begin work immediately with &quot;packages of support and advice&quot; for each of the projects. Planning for the second phase of the programme is said to be already underway, set to share the experiences of the 10 initial projects with library authorities across the country.</p><p>The 10 phase one areas in full are:</p><p>* Northumberland with Durham<br />* Bolton, with Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport,<br />Tameside, Trafford, Wigan<br />* Bradford<br />* Lincolnshire, with Rutland, Cambridgeshire, North East Lincs, Peterborough<br />* Suffolk<br />* Oxfordshire with Kent<br />* Herefordshire with Shropshire<br />* Cornwall with Devon, Plymouth, Torbay<br />* Lewisham with Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lambeth and Southwark<br />* Kensingon &amp; Chelsea with Hammersmith &amp; Fulham </p>