Royston library facing cut in services
HERTS county council (HCC) have confirmed fears that cuts to library services will affect the facility in Royston.
Since the comprehensive spending review last week uncertainties have risen over the future of libraries, with local authority budgets to be cut by 7.1 per cent every year for four years.
Added to this, the national arts budget, which contributes to writers’ and publishers funding, was cut by 30%.
Keith Emsall, councillor for community safety and culture has now confirmed that huge reductions to Hertfordshire libraries will take place.
Cut backs in staffing, opening hours and services will occur, and complete closures could not be ruled out, despite this not being in the current plans.
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Cllr Emsall said: “Our current assumptions are that savings of around �2m will have to be made in spending on our 46 community libraries.
Some of this will come from reduction in management and support costs but this will not be enough.
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“In Hertfordshire, we want to avoid closures but are forced to consider significant reductions in opening hours and we are now consulting on a revised pattern of opening.”
The cut backs are likely to come as a shock to staff at Royston library, who were not allowed to comment.
A seven week consultation on the possible changes will now take place and HCC are welcoming comments on how best to preserve the future of Royston library.
Hertfordshire county councillor for Royston Fiona Hill said: “The county council has no plans to close any static libraries but is looking at alternative ways of making savings. These are currently out for consultation.
“The library service is extremely valuable to all sectors of the community and I very much hope an acceptable outcome can be achieved.”
Leader of the council Robert Gordon said: “We want to avoid closures but the financial realities forced us to consider significant reductions in opening hours instead.”
Royston library currently contains specialist disabled computer facilities, disabled access amenities, several computers with the internet and Microsoft programmes, free wi-fi services and free fax and copy machines.
All could soon be under threat because of the cuts.
Cllr Emsall said that revised opening hours would be a preference to closing the libraries down, and revealed that mobile library routes will be revised.
“We plan to stagger opening hours so that, even when your most local library is closed, another relatively local one will be open,” he said.
“We will also revise the routes and locations served by the mobile library service to concentrate on rural areas where access to branch libraries is not an easy.”
Royston library currently contributes 55 opening hours to the county total of 2,236, however this figure is to be decreased by 661 hours.
Details of the consultation are available at Royston library where comments can be left, and they can also be made at www.hertsdirect.org/libraries.