4th Dec, 2016

Vale library hours under threat as cuts loom

Rob George 22nd Apr, 2016 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

CASH-STRAPPED county council chiefs are looking to slash opening hours at Evesham and Pershore’s libraries in a bid to cut costs.

Opening hours at the Oat Street venue could be cut by more than five hours per week if the proposals are approved.

Closing time on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays will be moved from 5.30pm to 5pm while the 7pm closure on a Thursday will be scrapped in favour of a 5pm finish.

The current 5pm closing time on a Saturday is also proposed to be brought forward to 4pm also county bosses will retain the current 9.30am to 7pm opening hours on Tuesdays.

Meanwhile Pershore Library will close at 5pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays instead of 5.30pm.

The 7pm closure on a Tuesday will be replaced with a 6pm closing time while the library will close at 4pm on a Saturday instead of 5pm

The Libraries and Learning service has had a total of £2.7million in savings to make from 2011 to 2016, with £2.4million delivered to date.

Now a further £1million has been added to the savings target, taking the total to more than £3million.

In a briefing paper seen by the Observer, county council chiefs outline a number of ideas to reduce pressure and bring down costs for the cash-strapped authority.

Among the ideas being considered is a bid to identify new opportunities to reduce premises costs by sharing library premises with internal and external occupiers.

Council bosses are also bidding to introduce un-staffed periods in the county’s libraries and will be tested out during 2016.

A further review and reduction of staffing at libraries is also expected to take place to ‘reflect fall in library participation’ according to the document.

“We have talked to the local library manager using local knowledge of daily patterns of visitor levels and visitor activity to try to minimise disruption to customer service,” the document added.

Coun Lucy Hodgson, responsible for localism and communities at Worcestershire County Council, insisted no final decision had been made yet and plans were being talked through.

“We are very proud of our record of keeping every library in Worcestershire open, despite the financial challenges that we are facing,” she said.

“We are currently consulting with staff regarding a number of proposals and seeking their views regarding future operations.

“No decisions have been made and we will consider the views of our staff before the proposals are discussed by the Libraries Board.

“We’re determined that any changes that have to be made have the minimum effect on people who use our libraries across the county.”

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