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KCC plots library changes

Thursday 18th September 2014

A PROPOSAL to form a charitable trust to run Kent’s libraries, registration and archives could save KCC some money.

Details were due to be discussed at a meeting of the county council’s growth, economic development and communities cabinet committee as the Downs Mail went to press.

The preferred option could give the service more freedom and flexibility to grow and develop, generate additional income and seek additional grant funding not open to KCC, according to an officers’ report.

There could also be greater community involvement with the service, as well as the benefits of a reduction in business rates and certain VAT exclusions.

KCC would remain accountable for the Libraries, Registration and Archives service and its contract with the charitable trust would specify the service which would see it continue to provide its existing services to all Kent residents, with free access to books and ICT facilities, while also maintaining the historic archives.

Cllr Mike Hill, KCC’s cabinet member for community services, said: “Over the last few years we have made major capital investments of some £30m into the library service.

“Our libraries, registration and archive service benefits hundreds of thousands of residents in Kent each year and we want to make sure these benefits continue to be realised. Moving to a trust model would give us the opportunity to modernise the service and provide improvements for the benefit of Kent residents.”

The trust model has worked successfully in other authorities, including Suffolk.

Cllr Hill said: “We recognise how important and valuable these services are to the public and are committed to continuing to support Kent’s communities as they grow.”

No firm decision has yet been taken, and the results of a 12-week public consultation will be taken into account.

You will be able to register your views online at www.kent.gov.uk/libraries or complete the questionnaire contained in an explanatory booklet available in all Kent libraries. 

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