Public being asked to consult on future of area’s libraries

PUBLISHED: 09:00 16 January 2016

St Neots Library,

St Neots Library,

Archant

People across Cambridgeshire have until February 15 to have their say on the future of the county’s library service.

A public consultation has been set up to gauge opinion and ask people to give a view about the options facing Cambridgeshire County Council, which could include changes to the mobile service and a reduction in opening hours.

The council announced at the end of last year that it planned to have to save £41 million over the next financial year, but due to a recent Government announcement, this figure is now between £5-£11million, depending on Council Tax levies.

Christine May, interim director of Infrastructure Management and Operations said: “The County Council has already made huge savings and is now faced with a greater challenge. We want people to have their say and help us shape Cambridgeshire Libraries for the future while making sure we meet the savings that are required.”

Over the last five years the CCC has saved £118 million and libraries have saved £2.5 million. To make the current savings the council says it now has to look at saving a further half a million from its already lean library budget.

Previously savings have been made from back office support, management costs, a more self-service approach, some service reductions and other efficiencies across the service.

Proposals include a combination of reducing opening hours at larger libraries, reducing management and professional staff and spending less on new library stock. The council has already started a cross party group which has been looking at ways of increasing income generation to make sure facilities can continue to be used as much as possible by local communities.

Other options are still being discussed by the council, including budget proposals for the Mobile Library Service and possible changes to archives and local studies. Although current options do not include transferring the running of any of the 32 libraries to the community at this stage, this may still be an option the following year when even more savings are needed.

The consultation which can be found online at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/libraryconsultation closes on Monday, February 15.

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