Cuts for Royston Library

PUBLISHED: 12:53 02 February 2011

Herts County Council

Herts County Council

Archant

ROYSTON library's opening hours have been slashed by a third as Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) makes cut backs to facilities across the region.

At a meeting of HCC’s cabinet on Monday it was agreed that all 47 of the county’s libraries would have their hours reduced, although none of them were closed completely.

Royston library will now be open for 37 hours a week instead of 56. It will be completely closed on Thursdays and Monday and Friday mornings.

The decision has upset campaigners who rallied against cuts, including Terry Hutt, who submitted one of only four petitions across the county.

“I think this is only the beginning for library cuts. They have started eating away and it could now get worse,” he said.

“It’s good that they haven’t shut completely but this is a vital public resource that we should strive to keep hold of.”

Liberal Democrat leader for Hertfordshire Chris White criticised the plans and warned there could be more on the way.

“We have made it clear, repeatedly, to the administration that there are other ways of delivering savings in the current library structure: modernisation, much greater use of new technology and deeper cuts in the numbers of administrators and managers,” he said.

“Hertfordshire has not attempted to learn from the example of other authorities and we cannot be certain that more significant cuts are not on their way - they still plan to reduce council staff by another 350 by 2015. It would be astonishing if this did not have an impact on front-line library services.”

Carlo Zambonini, who wrote several letters to council leaders expressing his disproval at cuts, said: “It’s been arranged for Hertfordshire’s libraries to become third rate and it will take a decade to re-establish it along the lines of other leading counties.

“We are investing in tarmac not people and communities.”

Mobile libraries have also been cut back, although most of Crow countries stops have been retained.

Councillor Keith Emsall of HCC defended the plans. He said: “While many councils are planning to close branches completely, we consider that it is very important for our residents to be able to access a library. That’s why no Hertfordshire branch library will shut down, and we have staggered the new timetable so that when your local library isn’t open, a nearby branch will be.

“Changes to library opening hours, once fully implemented, will achieve yearly savings of £1.4 million and the reduced mobile library service will save £275,000 per year.”

For full details of the revised timetables, visit www.hertsdirect.org.

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