Berkshire

Wokingham private libraries plan approved

Wokingham councillors have backed plans to outsource the authority's 11 libraries to a private firm in a move it believes would save £170,000 a year.

The council said it has to save money and paying companies to run its sites could save them from being closed.

Councillors agreed to invite firms to bid for five-year contracts starting from May 2012.

It is hoped private investment would also improve services, including IT provision, and boost visitor numbers.

The Conservative-led council currently pays out about £2.1m a year to run its library service but said it believed it could pay firms less to take them on.

However, a report to councillors said there could be an "increase in staff turnover" and "loss of influence" over the service.

If implemented, Wokingham would be one of the first councils to effectively privatise its libraries following a similar move in the London borough of Hounslow.

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