COUNTY COUNCIL BUDGET: ‘No plans to close libraries’- Notts County Council

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

There are no plans to close any of Nottinghamshire’s network of 60 libraries - the county council has announced.

There are growing fears that smaller libraries will face the chop, as part of the huge budget cuts planned for next year.

But the council denies any will close, saying it can achieve £1m savings for the authority, partly through an innovative plan to preserve smaller libraries through a community partnership approach.

It intends to consult communities on this proposal.

The plans would protect core library services, whilst enabling smaller local libraries to continue to be at the heart of communities. To support this approach a one-off investment to support community partnership libraries will be made from the library capital refurbishment programme.

The county council has three tiers of libraries in the county. ‘Tier one’ libraries are its largest libraries and ‘Tier Three’ libraries are its smallest libraries. It is expected that the libraries most suitable for community partnership approaches would be the smaller libraries although the council would be open to proposals from all communities.

The core library service, which includes larger libraries, is expected to serve at least 95 per cent of current visits and 93 oer cent of active library members across the county. There are no planned changes to the current mobile library service.

Nottinghamshire County Council is being forced to save £154m as a result of Government cuts. The scale of the cuts is unprecedented and will only be achieved by fundamentally changing the way it delivers services.

Coun John Knight, committee chairman for culture, at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “We have been left with a monumental task of making savings in this hugely challenging budget but at the same time we are totally committed to our libraries and are working tirelessly to find ways of preserving our service to the public.

“We are passionate that we do everything in our power to keep our libraries open. In the current climate of unprecedented cuts nationally, we are having to look for increasingly creative and innovative ways to run our services. We are keen to work with communities to help provide the library services they want and we also want a fairer deal for library users so hope that these proposals can help.

“We will ensure we will work with interested groups to design the best solution for each community. We will be setting aside a small amount of one off investment funding to support the best local solutions. It won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

If the proposals are approved, details of the consultation for the community partnership libraries would be announced in due course.

The county council is also looking at establishing a libraries and archives trust/social enterprise. The council’s statutory duties for libraries provision would continue to be met. Moving the delivery of the library service to an organisation at arms’ length is a way of reducing costs in the future and at the same time freeing the service to be more enterprising. However, the county council would maintain the duty to provide a library service and control what the service provided through a legal agreement/contract.