Library opening hours are the subject of the latest consultation by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) on cuts in services caused by cuts in the money provided to the council by central government. These will particularly affect care services.
Residents will be invited to have their say on proposals to reduce opening hours across all 24 libraries in the county by around 25 per cent on average, in a bid to make annual savings of around £500,000 from the running costs of the county’s libraries.
The impact for Rye will probably mean opening up to one hour later each morning at 10am and closing half an hour earlier at 5pm rather than 5:30pm on weekdays. The consultation process, dubbed the “libraries transformation programme” will start this month.
Though details are not yet known to staff at the library, it is understood that the process will seek to involve both users and non-users of the library services. Details of consultations are provided on ESCC’s website at consultation.eastsussex.gov.uk , though none were apparent mid-week on this consultation. If agreed by the ESCC Cabinet, the changes are likely to come into effect this September.
“Making changes to the opening hours of libraries across the county will help us achieve the necessary savings while ensuring that we can continue to provide a comprehensive service for residents”, said Cllr Chris Dowling, lead member for community services, “and data shows that 85 per cent of visits to libraries, use of library computers and wifi, loans, renewals and returns take place between 10 am and 5 pm”.
No changes would be made to the e-library service, which allows members to access e-books and e-audiobooks and a range of free online reference material 24 hours a day. Members and non-members will still be able to make enquiries online or by phone 24 hours a day.
[Editor’s note: Clearly though enquiries may not necessarily be answered immediately. ESCC have been conducting a number of consultations, particularly about cuts in care services for adults and children, because of cuts in the money provided by central government.
In particular this may mean £40 million cuts in adult care services. However the Chancellor of the Exchequer did say in his autumn statement that councils could increase council tax from April by up to four per cent in order to protect care services.
Wide concern has already been expressed over the proposed cuts in care services and it is anticipated that there will be considerable pressure on ESCC to increase council tax in order to limit these possible cuts]
Photo: Kenneth Bird