Libraries saved from cuts to opening hours

Proposed reductions in library opening hours across Buckinghamshire won’t happen, County Council Cabinet members have decided (Monday, February 12).

An underspend in a corporate contingency fund has enabled £140,000 to be released and the Cabinet decided its priority was to use it to balance the libraries budget.

Their decision followed a plea by Noel Brown, the Cabinet Member responsible for libraries, who pointed to the fact that libraries are valuable hubs that were welcomed by communities.

“These are hubs where community groups gather to socialise,” said Noel. “They’re no longer places where you just borrow books.”

The proposal for 2018/19 was to reduce opening hours in nine Buckinghamshire libraries by 37.5 hours a week to save £140,000 in a full year.

But County Council Leader Martin Tett, who described Noel as a massive champion for libraries, said: “Libraries offer an enormous range of services and they’re valued immensely by our residents. My concern is that the proposal to further reduce opening hours could tip some into becoming unviable.”

Cabinet members agreed to recommend the full County Council on February 22 to use the money to maintain library opening hours.