Library opening hours cut

PORTISHEAD Library will have its opening hours reduced as part of North Somerset Council’s cost-cutting measures, despite being described as ‘desperately needed’ when it opened just nine months ago.

It will have its hours cut, along with facilities in Nailsea, Clevedon, Yatton and Long Ashton, while two libraries in Weston will be open for longer.

Councillor Felicity Baker, executive member for libraries, said the need for cost-cutting was a ‘blessing in disguise’ and allowed the council to examine its library practices closely and encourage them to work together more effectively.

She said: “I actually believe all the communities around North Somerset will have a better service.”

The move though will come as a blow to users of Portishead Library, which opened in April following a facelift costing nearly �900,000.

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Despite Cllr Baker emphasising the need for the library when it opened last year and highlighting it as hugely successful, it will have its weekly opening times cut by 6.5 hours to 34.5.

This week she praised the number of books taken out by children rising by two-thirds and its visitor numbers rising by a quarter since opening. Visitors in Weston though have dropped by nearly a fifth in the last four years and are estimated to continue to fall.

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The reduction in hours comes as the council aims to cut �347,000 from its library budget over the next three years. It currently spends �2.9million per year but it needs to be cut if the council is to save �47.3million by 2015.

Nailsea and Clevedon libraries will have their opening hours cut by six and seven hours respectively.

Mandy Bishop, head of community and consumer services for the council, said the aim is to make services more efficient rather than to cut them entirely and the main cost-cutting would be through reducing hours for paid staff.

She said: “I would hope the number of compulsory redundancies would be minimal, if any at all.”

Currently the council employs 115 staff and needs to cut the equivalent of 11 full-time positions.

Cllr Baker also called on volunteers to help run libraries, highlighting the recent success of Congresbury Library.

The proposed changes will be open for public consultation from Monday.

Detailed plans and feedback forms are available from libraries. Opinions can also be emailed to - the results will be published in April ahead of the changes being introduced in September.

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