Eastleigh bookworms will be celebrating today after Hampshire County Council revised its plans to close the Town Library on Mondays after Mayor Wayne Irish came up with a viable alternative.
As part of the cut in funding imposed on the County by the Conservative/Lib Dem Coalition government, Hampshire is trying to save £450,000 by reducing overall library opening hours in the county by 7.5%.
Their proposal to shut Eastleigh library all day on Monday – a cut of 17% in availability – was met with little enthusiasm by councillors on Tuesday night’s meeting of the Local Area Committee.
Members were concerned that figures form Eastleigh library showed Mondays was the busiest day and that the closure of the Library also meant that the town registry office would have to shut as it shared the premises.
Cllr Paul Bicknell was miffed that the County had designated that Chandlers Ford branch as the ‘Key’ local library and had no closures planned – he suggested Chandlers Ford should close on Mondays instead.
Mayor Wayne Irish, the Lib Dem Councillor for Eastleigh Central , suggested that the same saving in hours could be achieved by opening the library an hour later at 10am instead of 9am. He argued there was little usage between nine and ten in the morning and this would enable the library to remain open on six days a week instead of five.
As a result of the suggestion being formerly submitted to the county, the original proposal to shut the library one day a week has been revised in favour of a 10 am opening.
Hampshire County Council said on its webpage:
“Although the consultation period continues until 28 December it’s become apparent from your responses that our original proposals need reviewing.
“Based on this feedback, we now propose an alternative pattern of opening hours.”
Although the new hours will minimise the effect of Library service cuts on Eastleigh users the librarians union UNISON are conducting an ongoing battle to save up to 20 posts being cut in favour of unpaid volunteers.
UNISON argues that the drastic measures proposed by Hampshire County Council can only result in a worse overall library service for Hampshire residents.
Hampshire County Council’s consultation on the library service is still open and can be accessed here