COUNTY COUNCIL BUDGET : Councillor: ‘Libraries will close, mark my words’

Annesley Woodhouse Library, Skegby Road. Annesley Woodhouse.
Annesley Woodhouse Library, Skegby Road. Annesley Woodhouse.

An Ashfield councillor is convinced that libraries will close because of impending cuts, despite strong denials from Nottinghamshire County Council.

The council announced plans to slash services, cut 800 jobs and hike up council tax as it looks to bridge a £154 million deficit.

As part of the changes, there are hopes to ‘preserve smaller libraries through a community partnership approach’, offering communities who have the smallest libraries in the region the chance to run the service.

Those mentioned but without confirmation include Annesley Woodhouse and Rainworth.

The council insists a ‘one-off’ investment from the library capital refurbishment programme will be made available.

However, district and county councillor, Jason Zadrozny, is not convinced it would be enough to sustain libraries.

He fears they will be cut adrift from funding and communities would be left to raise the capital just to keep the service running.

Coun Zadrozny said: “Nobody wants to run a library, you get volunteers who will do a few hours, but who is going to pay the heating bills?

“They want people to pay more council tax and then run the library. It’s not going to happen. Libraries will close, mark my words.”

Criticism from Coun Zadrozny was not just reserved for cuts affecting libraries, including funding being slashed in the care for disabled children and vulnerable adults, and a price increase on school meals to £2.10.

He said: “For a lot of people with the children, it might be the only healthy meal they have, and it could push people to make a choice. It’s the wrong area to be cutting.”

Coun Zadrozny also fears that a decision to scrap the 48-hour promise to fill-in potholes is shortsighted, fearing insurance claims from drivers with cars damaged will spiral.

Accepting that major changes are needed, he also questions the timescale on which the council is planning the savage cuts.

He added: “Every meeting for the past four years has talked about this, there’s no surprise, but why are they lumping the cuts in the next two years?

“It will have a detrimental effect to remove that much in one year. This is a massive problem for Nottinghamshire and will change the area forever.

“They are doing 50 per cent of savings in the first year, they do not need to do that.”