Hertfordshire County Council has selected the organisation it wants to deliver library services across the county.

But – in line with EU procurement rules – it will not yet reveal whether the winning bid came from its own ‘public service mutual’.

In October the county councillors decided to contract out library services, as part of a drive to save £500,000 without impacting on library services or improvements.

And, at the same time, they agreed to set up their own organisation – a ‘public service mutual’ – that would submit a bid.

By definition, that ‘public service mutual’ would deliver a public service, aim to have a positive social impact and be run with a significant degree of input from staff, volunteers and local communities.

Following the completion of the tendering process – and the consideration of two bids –  a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Monday (July 8) determined which organisation to award the contract to.

According to the report to the cabinet, the successful bid was “the most economically advantageous tender”.

However, the council will not reveal the name of the successful bidder until the end of a ‘standstill’ period, which must last for at least 10 days – during which time the decision can be challenged.

Presenting the item – part of which was considered in private – executive member for education, libraries and localism Cllr Terry Douris highlighted the recent investment that had been made in the county’s libraries, as well as increasing customer satisfaction.

But he said there was a need to reduce the libraries’ revenue budget by £500,000, which could have led to a consideration of significant service reductions, undermining what had been achieved.

And, it was as a result, he said, that the decision had been taken to look for an alternative provider that could deliver the library service for £500,000 less.

“A robust and transparent procurement has taken place and there is a provider that meets the council requirements,” he said. “It is the most economically advantageous tender.”

At the meeting, council leader Cllr Davis Williams said the name of the successful tenderer would only be released after the award letter had been made and there had been a ‘standstill’ period, in line with EU procurement rules.

The decision to award the contract had also been unanimously backed earlier in the day by a meeting of the council’s education, libraries and localism cabinet panel.