Libraries to close one day per week in Hampshire County Council cuts

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LIBRARIES across Hampshire are to shut one day per week to save cash.

And Hampshire County Council plans to wipe out the equivalent of 20.5 full time librarian and library worker posts in a bid to save £450,000 next year.

The council’s library services department has already wiped £750,000 from its annual budget by cutting library managers, HQ staff and mobile library services.

But it must reduce its spending further in 2012-13.

Under new plans, which are open for public consultation today until December 28, all but four of the 17 public libraries in our area will shut one day a week.

Opening hours at other facilities will be slashed, to cut the county’s libraries’ total opening hours from 1,939 hours per week to 1,793.5.

The council’s leader for culture, Cllr Keith Chapman said: ‘Changes have so far been made to get the service functioning as a modern business model. These latest changes aim to address the wider financial pressures that every service is facing. I would urge all library customers to visit their local library, or go to our website and view the changes for their individual library and let us know their views.’

In the area covered by The News, all libraries except Gosport Discovery Centre, Waterlooville Library, Fareham Library and Winchester Library will be closed at least one day per week, from April 1 next year.

And in most cases, opening hours will drop further, due to later opening or earlier closing.

Lib Dem Councillor Peter Chegwyn criticised the scheme.

He said: ‘These are savage cuts, which risk destroying the county’s public library service. We should value our service, not destroy it. The plans will also see 20.5 full-time library posts slashed, of which 14 would be librarians and library assistants, the rest made up of caretakers and maintenance workers.

Though the council says it needs to save cash on wages, it said that if workers agreed to work fewer hours, or change where they work, the number of posts to be lost would be fewer.

Cllr Chapman added: ‘We know how highly our library service is valued, but making no changes is not an option.’

For more on the proposals, go to: hants.gov.uk/library/libraries-openinghours.htm