The Member of Parliament for Stockton North, Alex Cunningham, last week questioned Culture Ministers about their dire record on library closures.
Over 600 libraries across the country have already closed, with 2013 set to see further cuts and yet more grim news. The closures are a direct result of draconian cuts from the Government to Local Authority funding, which have left hard-pressed Councils with no choice but to scale back their involvement.
Alex asked the Minister, Ed Vaizey, how the Government’s record of overseeing such a huge number of closures was compatible with its statutory duty to protect the library service in the UK. As we have come to expect, however, the Minister refused to give a straight answer.
“The Government must know the scale of their failure on library closures. We’re fortunate to have avoided the worst of it in Stockton Borough, but many Local Authorities have had no choice than to close a large percentage of their libraries.
“The Government need to match their rhetoric with reality. The Minister said that new libraries are opening, but these are more than outweighed by the hundreds which are closing, often in our most deprived areas.
Library closures are depriving a generation of children of access to free reading, and the Chancellor should think again about his draconian and unnecessary cuts to local government.”