DOZENS of libraries in Hampshire could be closed, it has been claimed.
A county councillor has claimed that 37 libraries across the county are under threat of closure as Hampshire County Council aims to save £1.75m from the library sector by 2021 in a move that would put 58 jobs at risk.
County bosses said there are 52 libraries across the county and further details over their future are yet to be revealed and will be subject to public consultations.
The authority said it ‘would not be appropriate to speculate’ but confirmed that public consultations will take place in January.
They were expected to be held this month but have been pushed back due to the general election.
The news was revealed earlier this month at the full council meeting where councillor Peter Chegwyn criticised the proposals for the library sector and said 37 libraries in Hampshire are now under threat of closure.
Cllr Sean Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage at the county council, hit back saying: ‘I don’t think it’s appropriate to start saying 37 libraries are under threat.’
But he said the council’s need to save money, a decrease from 7m to 4.5m visitors to libraries over the past years and an increase in the number of residents using digital library services need to be considered.
He reassured members saying there will be a ‘real and meaningful’ consultation over the future of libraries.
He added: ‘It will look at options from which people can choose and of course there will be options relating to libraries across this county and how they work, how they could work in terms of hours and there would be options which would see no libraries closure whatsoever. People will need to have a look at those very carefully.’
The news comes as county councillors have backed proposals to save a total of £80m by 2021.
When asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service after the meeting if 37 libraries in Hampshire are at risk of closure a spokesperson for the county council said: ‘Further details will be published in due course. Alongside implementing efficiency measures, and a drive to maximise income through events and room hire, we will also be seeking residents’ views on different ways of providing library services, with options including reductions in opening hours, and the possibility of a small number of library closures or relocations. The feedback collected from this consultation will inform any final decisions later in 2020. It would not be appropriate to speculate on the findings from this consultation, before it has even taken place.’