Libraries across Hampshire under threat of closure as council unveils £1.7m cuts plan
Libraries across Hampshire, including four in The News area, could close as the county council looks to save £1.7m.
Hampshire County Council is proposing shutting 10 of the county’s ‘least efficient’ libraries, as one of the options in a public consultation.
Among the libraries in the firing line are Elson in Gosport, Lee-on-the-Solent, Emsworth, and Horndean.
Others are Fair Oak, Blackfield and Lyndhurst in the New Forest, Odiham, and South Ham and Chineham in Basingstoke.
Opening hours in all libraries could be reduced by as much as 25 per cent, if another option is adopted.
The public are being invited to provide feedback that could lead to a compromise between the two options.
The equivalent of 41 full-time staff members will lose their jobs if the 10 libraries shut, while 46 would be let go if the option to reduce hours is taken.
This could affect librarians and other workers across the service due to staff rotation between libraries.
A further four libraries, which are community managed, could also be shut as the council will be withdrawing its support, saving £49,000.
The council would be looking at closing at libraries that were duplicating services regardless of budget cuts, Councillor Sean Woodward, executive member for recreation and leisure, said.
He said: ‘If central government gave us a couple of million pounds for library services we would be still reviewing our library services.
There are some libraries in sad buildings, not being well used, and we would look at those.
‘We do need to look at our library service.’
The £1.7m needed in savings represented ‘a significant’ part of the library services budget, according to Cllr Woodward.
He said: ‘This represents 16 per cent of the overall budget for the service.
This still means that a budget of £10m would remain.
‘The proposals in the consultation have been carefully though through and offer a genuine choice.’
The public consultation will be open until Wednesday March 18. A decision will be made by Cllr Woodward this summer, with changes taking place in the autumn.