York’s independently-run library service has a 15-year contract with the city council – so the authority can’t just decide to cut its budget without consulting them first, library chiefs have said.

And they have repeated a pledge to keep all the city’s fifteen libraries open, despite the council’s financial difficulties. “We do not intend to close any libraries,” a statement released today by Explore York said.

City of York Council has said it wants to reduce its funding for Explore York, which runs the city’s libraries and archive service, by £300,000 a year for the next two years, as part of efforts to plug a £40 million black hole in council finances.

In a statement accompanying the council’s announcement of plans to save £14.3 million on its budget in the next financial year, the authority’s executive member for health, wellbeing and adult social care Cllr Jo Coles said: "We are rightly proud of our brilliant libraries service but until this financial year, York Explore has not had any of the budget cuts affecting other parts of the council.

"There has also been significant capital investment of £7.7m into library buildings since 2019. It’s important we are fair in how we make planned reductions in funding.”

But in a statement issued on behalf of her board of directors at Explore York Libraries, chief executive Jenny Layfield pointed out that Explore had a 15-year contract with the council that had been signed in April 2019.

“As part of the contract there is an agreed contract sum which is paid to Explore each year,” she said.

“Explore is not therefore part of the council and does not have a council budget which can be subject to cuts.


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“In any contract of this nature there are agreed mechanisms for changing the terms of the contract, including the level of services provided and the costs associated with that.

“However, those changes require the agreement of both parties.

“We are sensitive to the current challenges of the City of York Council and will continue, as we have done to date, to work in partnership with them to ensure that we can continue to deliver the libraries and archives service that the people of York so clearly value.

“Explore’s position with regards to the closure of libraries remains as previously stated, that, under the current contract, we do not intend to close any libraries.”

Explore is an independent mutual organisation owned by the people of York.

It runs fifteen libraries in York - including York Explore, the flagship central library which is home to the city archive; seven reading cafes;, a mobile library; and a home library service. It employs more than 100 people.