Culture Media and Sport
Justin Tomlinson (North Swindon, Conservative)
To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport how many libraries were (a) closed and (b) opened in each local authority area in each of the last five years.
Edward Vaizey (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Culture, Communications and Creative Industries), Business, Innovation and Skills; Wantage, Conservative)
Data about the library sector are published annually by the Chartered institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and are available for the last five years. The Department supplements them by monitoring proposals about changes to library services across England through information gathered via correspondence, media coverage and from relevant bodies such as Arts Council England. It is difficult to get an accurate picture, as many local authorities are still developing and consulting on proposals and consequently the overall picture is always changing. While a definitive number is open to interpretation, we understand, from information we have gathered to date, that fewer than 50 static libraries ceased to be funded by their local authority between April and September 2011. Of these, responsibility for around a dozen libraries has been transferred away from the local authority and they remain open. Initial assessments also suggest around 40 libraries are being refurbished or are being opened—for example, large scale library building and improvement is happening in Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Blackpool, and significant new builds have opened, for example in Southwark and Hertford.