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3rd Dec, 2021

Fight to save libraries as further cuts loom

Rob George 20th Apr, 2016 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016

THE HIVE appears to have been spared a reduction in opening hours despite county council bosses looking at ways to slash £3.7million from the budget by 2019.

The Libraries and Learning service has had a total of £2.7million in savings to make from 2011 to 2016, with £2.4million delivered to date.

Now a further £1million has been added to the savings target, taking the total to more than £3million.

Worcester’s main library has been spared any changes but opening hours for libraries across the county will be slashed by 78.5 hours under plans being considered by bosses at County Hall.

Opening hours at Warndon Library are recommended to be left unchanged for at least 12 months after the site was moved into the Fairfield Learning Centre.

In a briefing paper seen by the Observer, county council chiefs outline a number of ideas to reduce pressure and bring down costs for the cash-strapped authority.

Among the ideas being considered is a bid to identify new opportunities to reduce premises costs by sharing library premises with internal and external occupiers.

Council bosses are also bidding to introduce un-staffed periods in the county’s libraries and will be tested out during 2016.

A further review and reduction of staffing at libraries is also expected to take place to ‘reflect fall in library participation’ according to the document.

“We have talked to the local library manager using local knowledge of daily patterns of visitor levels and visitor activity to try to minimise disruption to customer service,” the document added.

Coun Lucy Hodgson, responsible for localism and communities at Worcestershire County Council, insisted no final decision had been made yet and plans were being talked through.

“We are very proud of our record of keeping every library in Worcestershire open, despite the financial challenges that we are facing,” she said.

“We are currently consulting with staff regarding a number of proposals and seeking their views regarding future operations.

“No decisions have been made and we will consider the views of our staff before the proposals are discussed by the Libraries Board.

“We’re determined that any changes that have to be made have the minimum effect on people who use our libraries across the county.”

* What do you think? E-mail: editor@worcesterobserver.co.uk with your views.

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