HUTHWAITE actor and Coronation Street star Chris Gascoyne has criticised proposed cutbacks to library services.
Chris, who plays bookmaker Peter Barlow in the ITV soap, says that being able to borrow books from Sutton Library when growing up helped his acting career.
Now the library Chris says he ‘fell in love with’ is facing reductions in its hours and services as part of Nottinghamshire County Council’s plans to reduce its budget deficit.
Sutton Library is one of 17 community libraries in the area likely to be hit hardest by the severe cutbacks from later this year.
And Chris says this will have a serious impact on people living in places like Ashfield and Mansfield.
“Why are you taking something else away from people who have virtually nothing?” he said.
Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero, who is a shadow culture minister, has also criticised the library cuts.
She says Chris is a good example of libraries inspiring young people to make the most of their lives.
“I was very moved by people like Chris, who came from Ashfield, who told me that part of the reason he was able to succeed was that he was always reading at the local library.
“We know that many local employers only advertise online and that more than one-in-four households don’t have access to the internet at home. Libraries are crucial for so many reasons.
“The Government has a legal obligation to provide libraries. Kay Cutts (Nottinghamshire County Council leader) should explain how she thinks reducing Nottinghamshire’s library provision is going to help people move up and on.”
The county council hopes to save £3.3m from its budget by cutting library opening times to as little as eight hours a week and reducing the fund for new books by as much as three quarters.
Despite the measures, bosses insist local communities will have a big say on the future of their libraries.
The council’s cabinet member for culture and community, Coun John Cottee, said: “We’re looking to develop new community library partnerships with parish councils and voluntary bodies in these areas to encourage greater community involvement with these valuable assets.
“It’s not a case of replacing existing library staff, but working to improve the proposed service using community resources which already exist.
“We don’t have a specific ‘one-size-fits-all’ model in mind at all for these partnerships – quite the reverse.
“We want the library service to work for the individual communities it serves.”.