Wokingham private library firms shortlisted

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A shortlist of four companies has been drawn up which could potentially run 11 libraries across Wokingham.

The council believes outsourcing the service would save £170,000 a year, although concerns have been raised that it could lead to job cuts.

More than 20 firms came forward after bids were invited in May, with four taken forward into the next stage.

A final decision on whether the libraries will be taken over will be made in June.

'Loss of influence'

It is hoped that private investment will also improve services such as 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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