Library closures are "catastrophic"

Culture Secretary Maria Miller should step in to prevent the "cultural catastrophe" being caused by library closures in areas including Liverpool and Newcastle, author and broadcaster Baroness Bakewell has said.

"The bad news is coming in torrents: 326 libraries are under threat, closed or have left council control since April of last year."

Newcastle is planning to close 10 of 18, Liverpool 10 of 19."

– Baroness Bakewell

The Labour peer urged the Government to take action to stop local authorities cutting down on their library provision.

Lord Gardiner said he took the points "very seriously indeed" and said local authorities had a legal duty to provide a "comprehensive and efficient library service".

"Given the disproportionately heavy cuts to local authority funding in the north of England when will the secretary of state use her considerable reserve powers to stop this cultural catastrophe?"

– Baroness Bakewell

He said in 2011-12 authorities had invested £820 million in their libraries and the closure of a library did not necessarily signify a breach of the legal duty.

"It is important that local authorities reflect on what is the local need," he said.