Fresh plans to cut 22 more libraries across England emerge

Fresh plans to cut 22 more libraries across England emerge

Libraries across the country continue to be threatened with closure, with councils proposing to close 22 venues altogether across Swindon, Gateshead and Coventry.

Swindon is to close 11 of its 15 libraries by June 2017 in an attempt to cut 60% of the libraries budget 2020. While Highworth, North Swindon, West Swindon and the Central Library will stay open, 11 other libraries in the region will no longer be supported by the council from next year, the Swindon Advertiser has reported.

It is hoped that volunteer groups and charities will come forward to run the library service in those areas.

Cllr Mary Martin, cabinet member for communities with responsibility for libraries, said: “We are extremely fortunate in Swindon to have such a large number of libraries, but with an increasing amount of our budget being spent on vulnerable people in our community we cannot go on as we are."

Meanwhile in Coventry, campaigners are protesting against the council’s plans to close five of its libraries unless volunteers come forward to run them. The council says it has no other choice due to “savage” central government cuts to loal authority budgets, the BBC reported.

Libraries in Caludon Castle, Cheylesmore, Coundon, Earlsdon and Finham are under threat as the council hopes to make £4m worth of savings. A consultation on proposals is set to take place from September, with a final decision due next year.

Six libraries in Gateshead are also threatened with closure to save the council £450,000. Libraries in Whickham, Crawcrook, Pelaw, Felling, Rowlands Gill and the mobile library service are at risk.

In addition to the potential closures, the proposals could also result in the loss of 20 full-time jobs - with the risk of compulsory redundancies, the Chronicle Live reported.

Liberal Democrat leader Dr Jonathan Wallace called on the council to open talks with coffee shop chains and other organisations as a means to keeping community libraries open.

He added: “I have been pressing for the council to open talks with coffee shop chains to rent out space in our libraries. Many are in front street locations which would be ideal as retail outlets which could provide Gateshead with the income needed to keep libraries open. We should not close any library until this option is fully explored.”

Libraries body CILIP has condemned the “amateurisation” of library services, with CILIP members voting "overwhelmingly" in favour of actively opposing volunteers running libraries with little or no funding of the public library service in England at its a.g.m in London last year.