Ed Vaizey

Defensive posture, looks uncomfortable

Staffordshire is not cutting libraries.  They’re “entitled” to do this.  Spectrum of cuts from none to a lot – many have been “reconfiguring” their libraries for a number of years.
Are they an easy target?  (resilient use though) – They’re not in crisis, usage has stabilised.  Down to charities including The Reading Agency. All are doing it [but one has dropped out that he is not aware of – due to not having enough money].  Sat with CIPFA and will sit down with ACE to use statistics to keep libraries open e.g. spending too much on admin.  Did not answer question.
Chief Executives being paid more? It comes down to local accountability.  Electorate should ask council why they have decided to pay more to councillors and closed libraries.  “They should justify the salaries they are paying”.
You were a fervent advocate of intervention in 2009, what’s changed?  My job was in opposition.  I did not believe libraries were in crisis then.  Closure of libraries are acceptable inc. Wirral and one in Swindon.  Ed visited Swindon and the Wirral.  “I took the view that Wirral justified a public inquiry”.  Found against the Wirral because they did not do a library review, just a buildings review – you need to engage with how library services are using the service.  Charteris Review gave clear guidance.  Ed has written to each English authority to remind them of the Review and will assess deicsions based on the Review.  1964 Act makes libraries statutory – authorities still need to provide a comprehensive and efficient service.  “My officials have sat down with seven local authorities that have been high profile” and discussed the process and impact.  Officials then advise Ed.  No-one wants the statutory power to be removed.
Wirral was proposing nearly half the libraries, Brent has closed half of its … what’s the key difference? Brent had undertaken a review thinking about demographics.  The two court judgements in Brent shows that they have.  Tower Hamlets has closed half of its libraries and has renamed them Ideas Stores but Whitechapel is the third most visited.  The Idea Stores are extremely popular.  Sometimes you have to make tough decisions.  “We will have to evaluate submissions” made on the case.
What is a needs assessment? Some people in need won’t be filling in council survey forms.  Have you met the Campaigners there?  I haven’t the campaigners, my officials have met the council.  My advice as a Minister was that it would prejudice my decision if I met Councils and Campaigners.  Clear indication from Ed is that he will not be intervening.
Is it that if the Courts are OK with the decision, you are OK with it too?  Isn’t it your decision?  I’m not saying that. We have to analyse in the department to see if it is comprehensive and efficient.
If you’re a champion of libraries, how many library closures have you stopped? I believe I am a champion as I have engaged with library authorities eg. tri-borough merger of libraries.  Future Libraries Programme has made a difference.  The Arts Council will make a difference.  DCMS will call in changes for councils and I have written to authorities on three occasions.  I can’t claim one library saved.
Comprehensive and Efficient – how integral are professionally paid staff? Librarians are the core of any local authority but they don’t need to be in the frontline all the time.  There’s always been a debate – e.g. 1962 Bourdillon Report talked about the opportunities to use non-professional staff.  Highly trained librarians are quite rightly an expensive resource.  They’re the core.
The number of librarians has declined.  Does that worry you?  We have to be realistic and use librarians as effectively as possible.  Debate is stuck in binary debate about closures.  Librarians can train up volunteers and open more libraries.  If libraries are about the books then we should think creatively.  Ed likes libraries in a phone box.  Inside a book it shows one where the nearest library is.  Councils should be offering the services of librarians to create more volunteer-run branches.
9% is spent  on books.  A big cost is professional staff. What impact do you think the decline of librarians will have? Has the DCMS done any work on this? We have to be realistic and “delighted” to work with CILIP to see how significant decline in librarians is.  Volunteers in libraries is not a disaster and our societies would not survive without them.  It’s not an either/or.  Hillingdon’s focus is on customer service and engaging with library users. 
Volunteers are not a threat to professional librarians and provide a “great opportunity”for librarians.  Libraries taken over by volunteers can be open longer, have better stock and run by locals. “A balance has to be struck”. 
To what extent are volunteers a means to replace paid staff with free staff?  Where a council examines its service and there’s an opportunity for volunteers to save a library that would otherwise be closed, that opportunity should be saved.  Community Libraries do not replace a council-run service.  DCMS does not see volunteer-run libraries as statutory. 
Are there any plans to monitor this?  This will now happen.
Suffolk planned closures but, after consultation, libraries won’t close but there will be a contracting out of libraries to a volunteer-run organisation. Is that a good idea?  Authorities can look at a range of options.  Hounslow is privately run.  Who the council decides to run the library service is up to the council.  It’s “exciting”. 
Comprehensive and Efficient – Should there be any definitions?  I’d be interested to see the Select Committee’s views on this.  “Comprehensive” means range and spend of stock. 


1964 Act is very clear – needs to be free?  Any possibility of charges?  None.  We’re not going to.  Happy for charges to be made on other items. 
Why do you think that you and Mr Hunt are better than Mr Pickles? Mr Pickles is more scary.  Librarians can fall into quite a few departments – e.g. Education, DCLG, DMS – we should all have an impact on libraries policy. 
Will volunteer run libraries wither on the vine? I will commit to looking at how such libraries are doing by 2014.

Does ACE have the resources?  MLA had already been cut in half when we took over. ACE has enough resources.  ACE is spending more than the MLA [nonsense] on libraries.  “I have very strong confidence” that they will be a great resource for councils and libraries. 
London boroughs altogether? Recommend Desmond Clarke’s mailing list “An example fo the Big Society in action”.  We need to look athe CIPFA statistics.  Boris did “mutter” about a London library service.  We’ll see how the London boroughs and electorate react.