Proposed library cuts: Make sure your voice is heard

December 7, 2018

KCC is seeking a £1 million saving over the next two years on top of savings of £6 million since 2013/14 within its Libraries, Registration and Archives services. This is primarily to be achieved through significant reductions in opening hours for the majority of the county’s libraries.

Shepway is particularly touted for cuts:

Folkestone Library would see a reduction from today’s 61 hours per week to 43.

Hythe would go from 53 hours to 37.

Cheriton would go from 45 hours to 28.

New Romney would go from 45 hours to 28.

Lydd would fall from 27 hours to 23.

Wood Avenue (Folkestone) would go from 36 to 23.

The only proposed local beneficiary would be Lyminge, increasing from 22 hours to 28. Sandgate is unchanged as it is run on a day-to-day basis by Sandgate Parish Council (the only library in the county that has such an arrangement).

The precise nature of the opening hours has not been specified, beyond a commitment that all libraries will be open on Saturdays. If the decision is made to change the number of hours of a library, there would be further consultation

There are drop-in events to talk to staff about the strategy and proposals. In Shepway, these are at Folkestone Library on Sunday 6th January from 10am to 1pm and at New Romney on Wednesday 9th January from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

The consultation closes at midnight on 29 January 2019.

While welcoming the fact that no libraries are touted for closure, in contrast to some other parts of the country, Shepway Green Party has serious concerns about the proposals and the basis for these. For one thing, there is no consideration of deprivation when evaluating the value of each and yet we know that libraries are a lifeline for many people.

Libraries, particularly in areas of deprivation, are vital community hubs. In particular, with such an emphasis now on online applications, the public computers are essential for many people when applying for welfare payments, including universal credit, tax credits, jobseeker’s allowance and low income benefits, carers and disability benefits, child and other family benefits, and heating and housing benefits.

Our KCC councillor, Martin Whybrow, is asking a question about the evidence base for the analysis and the lack of consideration of deprivation at next week’s full council meeting.

Across the county, the proposals would see an overall reduction in library opening hours of 20%.

We are urging everyone with an interest in their library services to take part in the consultation, either via hard copies available in the libraries or online at https://consultations.kent.gov.uk/consult.ti/LRAStrategy/consultationHome

 

 

 



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