County council agrees plan to cut library opening hours

Library opening hours will be reduced

Kent County Council has agreed a three year plan for libraries which will include a cut to opening hours.

The proposal aims to save the authority £960,000 over the next two years. In 2017-18, KCC spent £15,993,000 on running Libraries, Registration and Archives services. LRA services brought in an income of £6,300,000; the majority of this comes from registration services leaving a cost of £9,623,000.

The vast majority of spend – £11,328,000- is on staffing. The proposals to reduce hours will also mean staff cuts through redundancy, non-filling of vacant posts and/or early retirement.

Thanet libraries

The Thanet library facing the greatest reduction in hours is Newington, which is set to go from being open 40 hours per week to just 15 hours.

Margate reduces from 55 hours to 42;

Birchington from 40 to 37;

Broadstairs from 55 to 37;

Ramsgate from 53 to 37;

Cliftonville from 40 to 37 ( a change to the original proposal of 28 hours)

Westgate from 38 to 28

Minster from 33 to 23.

The new opening  times were reached by looking at the number of visits, loans, computer use, unique visitors, event visitors and building size.

It is proposed that all libraries will be open on Saturdays.

Specialist services such as the mobile library, home library delivery, audio books by post, and residential home services will be brought together under one brand of Library Direct.

Consultation

The decision has been taken following a ten-week public consultation which ran from 21 November to 29 January. In total 5,547 responses were received from individuals and organisations. KCC says the majority supported the strategy as a way forward for the service.

There will not see be changes until the autumn. The next step will be local engagement in libraries about the exact opening hour patterns customers would like to see.

‘Difficult decisions’

Mr Hill said: “This strategy offers a sustainable future for the Libraries, Registration and Archive service in the context of the challenging financial situation for Kent County Council.

“Unlike many other local authorities, Kent is committed to keeping all its libraries open if possible and, while I have heard the understandable concerns raised about the reduction of library opening hours, difficult decisions have to be taken.

“The next steps will see this strategy adopted and implemented over the next three years.”

‘Disgusted’

Labour county councillor Karen Constantine said: “I’m frankly disgusted by this decision. The cuts in Newington are clearly a precursor to full closure. That is now an inevitability. It’s impossible to describe the folly of these decisions to reduce opening hours.

“I have met many people, including young people, who have used both Newington and Ramsgate library to help them gain qualifications. Where will they go now?

“I’m especially upset by this decision because at the recent Loneliness and Social isolation select committee, I  stressed again and again how important libraries are as community assets, which help to prevent social isolation.”

12 Comments

  1. How much could be saved if KCC reduced to a three day week and counsellors were only paid half what they received now. This could be enacted after full public ‘consultation ‘ of course.

  2. What price education and knowledge ? Better spent on Libraries used by most of the community than a white elephant of Parkway station that will be used by a very few

  3. Can anyone in Thanet tell me if they prefer money being spent on Thanet parkway rather than maintaining library services and bus routes

    • Absolutely not, the station certainly isn’t about having more people come here to invest in the area, it’s about still allowing people to commute out. How, HOW can the Council justify such an awful cut in funding to a fundamental resource for children and residents from all walks of life. It’s not just education and access to services, it’s taking away key social interactions, lifelines for people, and just reinforces the notion to the disenfranchised that they don’t matter, their needs don’t need to be met. Bloody disgusting move KCC, shame on you

  4. This is a shameful and widely damaging decision.

    Improve existing stations and scrap the ridiculous idea of Parkway. An extra stop on the line would not shorten journey times! But then, logic is not always a strong point in councillors’ decision-making.

  5. Why should local councils have to spend money to build Thanet Parkway anyway?
    The railways are , unfortunately, privatised. We, the public, don’t own them anymore, so why should we pay to build a new station?

    We don’t own the supermarkets either so we wouldn’t expect to sacrifice our public services like the Libraries to find the money to build a new store. We would expect the supermarket companies to build one . As it would be to their advantage.
    If Thanet really, really needed a new station at Cliffsend (and I can see some advantages for all the London commuters who will be coming to live on the former airfield at Manston ) then I would expect local residents to end up owning the new station and benefitting from the income via reduced Community charges.

    We seem to have reached a point in this country where the public sees public services being reduced yet public money is spent to bolster private businesses so that the owners of the businesses get richer but the rest of us struggle just to pay the bills. This is supposed to be clever economics!

  6. There is no library in Newington it is in Northwood but Constantine wouldn’t know since she rarely appears UP THERE.

  7. Newington library will have its hours cut to 15 hrs per week, which in effect turns it into a very expensive book storage facility and not anything like the community hub that it should be .The library is in the wrong place and will never prosper in its current location.A school on the periphery of the community was never going to work and they were warned; co- location is a failed policy and it certainly failed Newington Library
    The Town Council is meeting with the relevant KCC Cllrs and officials and even though it seems the die is cast, perhaps something can be salvaged from the wreckage.
    With all due respect to the comments made here, we need to speak with one voice.Technically ‘Newington’ library may be located in Northwood,but the outcome for Ramsgate is again a sacrifice of services. Ramsgate is bearing a disproportionate burden of service cuts and is a community least fitted to bear those cuts. KCC has to face up to their responsibilities in terms of social cohesion, inclusion and resilience in Ramsgate. RTC has offered an alternative solution, and even in these straightened times, there is it seems, large capital balances available for other purposes, so perhaps, both KCC and TDC can find something down the back of the sofa, to deliver a first rate community facility actually in Newington.
    A Community volunteer run library won’t work here, because the library is poorly located, but relocation might offer new possibilities.

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