Thirty Leicestershire libraries under threat

Thirty Leicestershire libraries under threat

Leicestershire County Council could close or put out to volunteers 30 of its 53 libraries, as it looks to make £110m of savings in the next five years.

The council's proposed savings include slashing £1.9m from library budgets in the county.

With the planned savings, the Leicester Mercury reports that the council could only fund 16 libraries in towns and larger communities, out of 53 libraries across the county. The rest would be offered to parish councils or volunteer groups to run.
Across the whole council, 700 jobs could be lost if plans are approved, on top of 600 redundancies that have taken place over the past three years.

Byron Rhodes, the council's deputy leader and finance spokesman, said a reduced government grant made the cuts necessary. He said: "We simply cannot afford to run services the same way as we have in the past. It’s inevitable that the public will notice major changes. We have to concentrate on caring for the most vulnerable people and that means saving money from other services, which have to take a lower priority."

Council leader Nick Rushton said a previous consultation had indicated that libraries was one of the areas that people had said needed less funding. He said: "Responding to our consultation, taxpayers have told us to spend less on grants and on services including streetlighting, grass-cutting, museums and libraries – so that’s what we are proposing to do."

People are invited to comment on the council's budget proposals, ahead of the council's cabinet considering the plans on 15th January. After they are examined by the council's scrutiny committee, the cabinet will finalise and agree on the measures in February.