“To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service”

When faced with the reality of huge cuts in public services and a retrenchment of the state from some of the services that are core to a community’s and individual’s wellbeing, here we find ourselves in 2015, searching once again for those solutions.

A key message from the recent report from the Warwick Commission “Enriching Britain: culture, creativity and growth” was “that the government

and the Cultural and Creative Industries need to take a united and coherent approach that guarantees equal access for everyone to a rich cultural

education and the opportunity to live a creative life. There are barriers and inequalities in Britain today that prevent this from being a universal human

right. This is bad for business and bad for society.”

Despite us knowing the importance of these services, facts posted on the Public Libraries News website indicates that since 1st April 2015: 9 libraries have been confirmed closed, 3 mobile libraries have been confirmed closed, 8 libraries have been passed to community groups and 47 static and 16 mobile libraries have been put under threat. This summer Historic England announced the listing of 8 libraries in a conscious effort to preserve the built environment of libraries. Meanwhile, some libraries have been asking for donations of books. These concurrent news items not only highlight the drive to protect our libraries, but also the ongoing challenges faced by those delivering the services.

We are presently working with a number of local authorities to help them arrive at innovative solutions for their library and cultural services. Our aim is to help them ensure that these vital services are not forever lost.

In doing so, we are able to provide advice in relation to:

  • Advice on appropriately discharging statutory duties under The Public Libraries & Museums Act 1964;
  • Potential procurement routes and any associated risks, including structuring of grant arrangements and any associated state aid implications;
  • The options for delivery, most suitable corporate forms and whether to pursue charitable status or not;
  • Implications for Community Asset Transfers and disposals of local authority assets at less than best consideration under the General Disposal Consent (England) 2003;
  • Establishing synergies between cultural, library and leisure services and considering how these services may be better aligned in the new structures;
  • Advice in relation to the potential for judicial review;
  • Consideration of community ownership and fund raising, including multi constituent governance models.

We also work closely with Locality and have provided input into some of their recent reports on libraries, their asset transfer toolkit and produced a webinar on Legal Considerations for Library Transfers which can be accessed here.

For more information

If you would be interested in benefiting from our experience and arranging a workshop for your local authority to assess all of the above and other key issues relating to your leisure, library or cultural services please do not hesitate to contact Mark Cook, David Alcock or Tracy Giles.

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