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Council scraps library privatisation plans

PUBLISHED: 16:58 03 October 2016 | UPDATED: 17:22 03 October 2016

The council will continue running library services in-house

The council will continue running library services in-house

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A joint outsourcing exercise with Bromley Council will not go ahead

Bexley Council has scrapped plans to privatise the borough’s libraries under a joint outsourcing exercise with Bromley Council.

Proposals to outsource the borough’s libraries were revealed last October, but the council has decided to continue running the library service in-house following the receipt of tenders.

Joint outsourcing was originally mooted because the two boroughs share the responsibility and cost of managing their back office library services.

Cabinet member councillor Peter Craske said: “We have worked really hard to keep our libraries open and we are looking forward to making them even more of a focus for a wide range of leisure and community activities in the future.”

Unite regional officer Onay Kasab commented: “We are obviously very happy that Bexley have made the decision to keep it in house. It is the best thing for the service.

“What we hope will not happen is that Bexley will cut further. Our view is that local authorities have significant amounts of money in reserve and they should use those to keep libraries going.

“A number of boroughs have transferred over to charities, to staff who are not paid and non-expert, and we do not think that is the way forward.”

The council has confirmed it still needs to find further savings and extra income from libraries in 2018-19 to balance its budget. A range of options for doing so will be considered over the coming months.

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