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Libraries

PROTECTING THE FUTURE OF OUR LIBRARY SERVICE

 

Bedford Borough Executive has made a commitment not to close any libraries despite over 340 libraries closing across the country over the last 6 years.

 

However, with significant and on-going Government cuts squeezing the Council, savings have to be made. From 2015/16 to 2019/20, the main Government grant to the Council will be cut from £30million to £5.8million – an 80% reduction. While the Council has, and will continue to work to reduce running costs, difficult decisions have to be taken.

 

A Report to Bedford Borough Council’s Executive recommends the introduction of ‘Library Plus’ at Central Library, Bromham Library and Wootton Library. The ‘Library Plus’ Model came as a result of consultation and from looking at best practice across the country. The model will enable the Council to make the necessary savings to deal with Government cuts, while providing longer opening hours at more convenient times.

 

Cllr Sarah-Jayne Holland, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture, said: “The high level of engagement from local people was extremely welcome and shows the strength of support which we have in deciding not to close libraries. It became clear during consultation and public meetings that users at some of our local libraries were concerned about the Library Plus model, so it is not being recommended for introduction at those libraries. Instead, it is recommended that it be introduced at our Central Library where there is the presence of security staff.”

 

A trial is proposed for Bromham and Wootton Libraries where users felt that the model could work for them.

 

Cllr Holland added: “Having listened to users, the report recommends not introducing the Library Plus model at Putnoe and Kempston Libraries, but rather reducing opening hours in order to meet the level of savings required. These are difficult decisions that we all hoped we would not have to take. However, the level and persistence of Government cuts has made it inevitable.”

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