1. ITV Report

New chapter for Suffolk libraries

All Suffolk's 44 libraries have been transferred from council control to a new charitable company. Photo: ITV Anglia

All Suffolk's 44 libraries have been transferred from council control to a new outside charitable company, Suffolk's Libraries IPS (IPS). It's the first deal of its kind in the country and will include the mobile, school and prison library services.

Suffolk County Council says Suffolk's Libraries IPS is an industrial and provident society which is able to use its charitable status to secure additional funding, benefit from rate relief and cut the cost of bureaucracy. The IPS will work in partnership with local library groups to support and expand the service.

The new company will take responsibility for employing all paid library staff - who will also make the transition with the service.

There were fears that cuts in council funding would lead to library closures and some towns in Suffolk, like Leiston, held protest marches to save their library.

A protest held in March 2011 to save Leiston library in Suffolk from the threat of closure Credit: ITV Anglia

Councillor Judy Terry, Suffolk County Council's cabinet member responsible for libraries, said:

"The future of all of Suffolk's libraries is secure. That is something I am immensely proud and pleased to be able to say. By creating an IPS to take the service forward, we've found a way of saving money, opening up new funding opportunities and given community groups a real say in how the service is delivered."

"We've seen councils elsewhere in the UK forced to close libraries or reduced opening hours in order to balance the books. The Suffolk model is the complete opposite. This week is a key milestone in our determined work to give Suffolk's library service a sound foundation for future growth."

The Suffolk mobile library service will also transfer from council control to a new charitable company. Credit: ITV Anglia

Suffolk County Council says it has retained its statutory responsibility for library services and will continue to be accountable for ensuring a county-wide network is provided. The county council will also retain sufficient in-house libraries expertise to ensure the council's legal duties are met.