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Hampshire libraries ‘unsustainable’ under £900,000 of cuts
LIBRARY services in Hampshire will be left “unsustainable” after £900,000 of planned cuts, union bosses claim.
Jobs, mobile libraries and branches are facing the chop as part of swingeing £93million cuts to the county council’s budget.
County bosses say their hand has been forced by massive reductions in Government grants.
But Unison claim the cuts – which are three times more than originally planned – are unnecessary because the council is sitting on about £400million of reserves.
Steve Squibbs, a local Unison rep at Hythe Library, said: “If the cuts go ahead they will result in a service that is unsustainable as staff struggle to maintain a quality service for the public.”
As reported, libraries under threat of closure include Milford on Sea.
It is hoped volunteers will step forward as they did last year for libraries in North Baddesley and Stanmore but if no one comes forward the libraries face closure.
Mobile stops are to be slashed by nearly a third – with those under threat including three in Fareham, six in Eastleigh, eight in Romsey, ten in Winchester and 26 in the New Forest. The library outreach team, which promotes the use of the library service, is also to be disbanded and 27 full-time posts face the axe.
But Tory recreation and heritage chief Keith Chapman vowed to maintain library services in the face of declining financial support.
He said: “Hampshire’s library service has examined a number of ways it might make savings going forward, considering what changes would impact the least on customers, while protecting what people value and need most from the library service.
“These proposals are designed to maintain and deliver a high quality and flexible library service, enable the service to achieve the required savings and help make it more resilient in the future in the face of further Government grant reductions.”
Plans include increasing library assistant hours and investing in ebooks as well as self-service technology.
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