New Move to Shape Our Libraries; Wirral Welcomes Minister's Bid to Take Fresh Look at Services
Byline: LIAM MURPHY
WIRRAL'S council leader last night welcomed the launch of a national consultation to develop a strategy for the future of library services.
The consultation document was launched by culture minister Margaret Hodge, who said libraries "must move with the times to win back public support and secure their future".
It came a day after the longawaited release of the report by the Government-appointed inspector Sue Charteris into Wirral's proposals to shut 11 of its libraries. The plans were dropped by the council at the end of September just before the report had first been due. In it, Ms Charteris was highly critical of the plans.
However, just 24 hours later, culture minister Margaret Hodge appeared to endorse Wirral's aims, if not its application, in modernising its library service.
Her call for "radical thinking was praised by Wirral's cabinet member for culture, Cllr Bob Moon, who said her consultation document was "in stark contrast to the Charteris report, which seeks to preserve the status quo".
In the consultation document, Mrs Hodge said she wanted to "reflect on the process of the Wirral inquiry, and to provoke a debate on some of the radical suggestions which have emerged over the last 12 months".
But Roy Clare, chief executive of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) had praised Sue Charteris's report which "supports the vital principle that changes to library provision should only take place after strategic thinking and proper process that takes account of public need and wishes. …