Five libraries to go in Southend

Five libraries to go in Southend

Five libraries look set to close in Southend after a year-long review by Southend council.

The organisation has to save £378,000 over the next three years and has announced a shake-up of library services in a bid to make the savings.

According to local news reports, Westcliff, Southchurch, Thorpedene, Friars and either Leigh or Kent Elms libraries are under threat of closure, although volunteer groups will be given the option of running them instead. Under those plans, the council would still provide the building, the books, computer access and management support.

The review has also proposed the Central Library in Victoria Avenue should close in favour of a new, virtual 24-hour Southend Forum Library costing £12.5m, which would open in September.

Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's executive councillor for culture and tourism Derek Jarvis said: "We are committed to providing and developing excellent library services for the borough, and this was at the forefront of our minds as we drew up these recommendations. However, we also had to face the constraints of the ongoing very difficult financial climate."

He added that the council felt community groups may "jump at the chance" to run community libraries. "If our recommendations are approved, we will be inviting groups to submit a formal case to us, showing how they would plan to operate such libraries," he said.

The plans will be considered by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's Cabinet on 19th March, and there will be a further three-month consultation to allow people to have their say on the proposals.

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