More people urged to have say on strategy plan for libraries

WITH less than a week to go, people are being urged to take part in a consultation which will shape the future of libraries.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 12th January 2016, 6:27 am
Children having fun at Bridgemary Library
Children having fun at Bridgemary Library

So far, around 8,600 people have responded to Hampshire County Council’s plans for public libraries, making it one of the most popular consultations held by the authority.

But with it closing this Saturday, more people are being asked to get involved as some libraries could face closure. As previously reported in The News, under future plans libraries would be placed into four tiers.

Gosport Councillor Peter Chegwyn, who sits on the library working group, is worried about the future of the borough’s facilities after three of them were threatened with closure.

He said: ‘Lee-on-the-Solent, Bridgemary and Elson are all at risk of closure.

‘The county council should come clean and say which ones will close and which ones will remain.

‘At the moment those possibilities are unclear. It is a worry for users and staff.’

Under the tier system, libraries such as Fareham and Gosport, which are in tier one, will be managed by the council and open six days a week including Saturday and some evenings. Second tier libraries, like Havant and Hayling Island, would also be managed by the council and open five days a week from 9am to 5pm.

Stubbington, Leigh Park, Lee, Bridgemary and Elson libraries are in tier three and will be managed by the council with community support and be open at least three days a week from 9am to 5pm. But some could close while others will be transferred.

Finally, tier four libraries will be managed by the community in partnership with the council and opening hours will be decided by the community.

Cllr Chegwyn added: ‘Elson is a really popular library and it would be an extreme loss if it were to close. All the libraries in Gosport are well used and they are so important for the community.

‘I think the number of people who have responded shows how key libraries are.’

Councillor Andrew Gibson, who oversees libraries, said: ‘We’re very pleased the consultation has sparked such strong interest, and we’re encouraging more people to have their say. All feedback is valuable and will be used to inform the final outcome, as no decisions have been made yet.’

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