Hounslow has had a private company running its library services for longer than any council in the UK. Carillion purchased the Hounslow contract from Laing as part of a £65m deal to take over John Laing Integrated Services (JLIS) in 2013. Before that, the service was run by JLIS as a trailblazer for private running of libraries since 2008. I looked at the experience of Hounslow in a piece for CILIP Update way back in 2011.

Carillion ran the service as part of its non-profit arm “Cultural Community Solutions” (CCS) which also operates library services for Croydon, Ealing and Harrow. However, some question how non-profit CCS really is…

You will have noticed that I am using the past tense about Carillion and Hounslow.  This is because I have just received, after checking up on rumours , the following message from Hounslow council:

Contract with Carillion for library services

Councillor Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Green Policy and Leisure, Hounslow Council said: “The council is ending the contract for library services by mutual agreement with Carillion. Responsibility for the library service will transfer back to the Council on Tuesday 1 August. We believe that by bringing this back in-house, we can further improve what is a very valuable service for our residents and integrate this across our wider leisure and cultural services. Over the next three weeks, the Leisure team will work closely with HR, ICT, FM and Finance to transfer the service in-house. It will be challenging to complete the process quickly, primarily relating to the IT infrastructure, but our ICT team is confident that the necessary systems will be in place by 1 August.Our intention is that the service to the public will not change, and there are no plans to close any of the libraries during the transfer.” Official response from London Borough of Hounslow (received direct via email). Councillor Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Green Policy and Leisure, Hounslow Council.

It’s unclear as to what is behind the ending of the contract in such haste. One would normally expect such contracts to end at the same time as the financial year at the end of March. The last definite news in the public realm I noted was news of a new Marylebone Library and a move for Hounslow Library in February. The council has been Labour controlled since 2010.

I am sure the full story will eventually be heard but, for now, this has to weaken the case for privately run companies taking over library services.

More information on Carillion:


An online bookclub from Axiell