Library hour cuts revised for the better
LIBRARIES will remain open for longer than previously thought following a consultation on plans to cut operating hours.
In January, North Somerset Council announced proposals to reduce the opening hours of many of its libraries to save �347,000 over three years.
The plans included shutting some facilities during lunchtimes and reducing the opening hours across the district overall by 21 per week.
However, following a two-month consultation which yielded 1,960 responses, the authority has managed to balance the books while increasing the proposed opening times to just one hour less than the current situation.
This includes scrapping proposals for lunchtime closures in Clevedon and Nailsea.
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The budget savings will be made by cutting staff numbers, which has already begun by not filling vacant positions. It is hoped some staff may take voluntary redundancy or be deployed elsewhere.
The way people use library services has changed quite rapidly, with many making reservations online, therefore reducing the need for high staff numbers.
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To enable the libraries to continue operating, self-service machines will be installed at most facilities, excluding Pill and Long Ashton for which funding is being sought, in time for the proposals to be implemented on September 3.
The council also hopes communities will get involved in helping to run libraries voluntarily. It has already held initial talks with parish councils in Pill and Yatton. In Congresbury, volunteers already help to run the village facility.
Executive member with responsibility for libraries, Councillor Felicity Baker, said: “We have listened to comments and where possible matched proposals more closely to them.
“We are pleased several parish councils and communities have approached us about volunteering networks to support and enhance the new opening arrangements.”
Before the consultation, the council was proposing to reduce the opening hours in Clevedon from 40.5 per week to 33.5. The new hours will total 37.
In Portishead, proposals to reduce the current 45 hours to 38.5 have been revised to 42 and in Nailsea the proposed reduction from 39.5 to 33.5 hours has been changed to 37.
Plans to reduce the hours in Long Ashton from 23.5 to 17 have been changed to 21 and, in Pill, the library will be open for 14.5 hours, compared with the current 15.
Congresbury Library will remain at 15 hours per week and, in Yatton, plans to reduce the hours from 42 to 34, have been revised to 33 hours.
At two libraries in Weston, the hours will be extended to cover weekday mornings and weekends at no extra cost as they are based at multi-use sites where other staff are present, meaning they can remain open for self-service use. Portishead Library will also be open at weekends, with extended opening on Saturdays.
* For more details about the review and proposed changes visit www.n-somerset.gov.uk/libraryreview2012