CASH-strapped Dudley Council is planning to hive off the borough’s libraries, archives and adult learning into a new organisation.

The  cabinet is expected to agree the creation of an employee-led mutual to run the services from next April, as part of a five year plan, when it meets next Wednesday.

A council spokesman outlined how the mutual would work, saying: “This is where council employees set up a new organisation separate to the local authority to continue to deliver public services.

“While employee control is a key feature, elected members, volunteers and users of the services can contribute to the way the mutual operates.”

If agreed, the plans will go out for a three-month public consultation to find out what people want from their libraries, archives and adult learning services.

There will also be consultation with staff, unions and other stakeholders. The mutual will see all libraries, library links and the archive service remain open, but with increased customer self-service and reduced staff time.

Adult and family learning will be funded from national budgets allocated to the council for adult skills and community learning.

The spokesman said the plans will enable the combined service to bid for new money and grow the business with less reliance on council funding, which means a council saving of 11 per cent in 2016/17 rising to 30 per cent by 2017/18.

Councillor Rachel Harris, cabinet member responsible for libraries and archives, said: “As a community council we are committed to delivering high quality services to our existing customers and at the same time providing opportunities to widen access to community services.

“An employee-led mutual creates opportunities to deliver professionally-led services supported by the community in a way that local people can be proud of.”