Closure of seven libraries to go ahead

Demonstrators outside Ore Library SUS-171031-120623001 Photo by Roberts Photographic
Demonstrators outside Ore Library SUS-171031-120623001 Photo by Roberts Photographic

Plans to axe seven libraries across East Sussex are set to be confirmed next week.

Langney, Mayfield, Ore, Pevensey Bay, Polegate, Ringmer and Willingdon libraries are set to shut in early May.

East Sussex County Council, which held a 12-week consultation on its draft Libraries Strategic Commissioning strategy late last year, is also proposing to scrap the mobile library service.

A decision is set to be made by the authority’s Cabinet on Tuesday March 6.

Nick Skelton, assistant director of communities, said: “Closing library buildings is not a decision we take lightly and I can understand the feelings of these communities,”

He added: “Every member of the seven libraries proposed to close lives within a 20 minute drive to one of the remaining libraries. More than 96 per cent are within a 30 minute journey on public transport. The majority of respondents who said they would be affected also said they would still be able to use the service.

“We considered very carefully all of the views people put forward about our proposals and we recognise there are individuals in every community with needs that the library service can support.

“Faced with unprecedented levels of cuts, however, we have to prioritise our resources toward areas with the highest levels of need. But, with the addition of community library cards and improvements to our eLibrary, we believe the draft strategy continues to offer a highly accessible service to all residents.

“If cabinet approves the revised strategy, work will begin on implementing the changes, with the seven libraries and mobile library service closing from Saturday, May 5 2018.

“We will work with community groups and organisations who’d like to explore taking over the responsibility for libraries that would close as part of the new strategy.”

If the county council reaches an agreement with communities or other organisations for them to retain their local library, the libraries in question will close from May 5 and reopen when contracts and agreements are in place.

The strategy is set to save the council £653,000.

Under the revised proposals, the council would introduce initiatives that received widespread support, including a new community library card, homework and study clubs in libraries and increased outreach work in the county’s most disadvantaged communities, while there would also be greater investment in the eLibrary.

The updated strategy includes new pilots for homework and study clubs, while popular code clubs would continue to run.

The Schools Library and Museum Service will also be replaced with a more flexible and affordable option which would create a new Teachers Library Membership allowing them to borrow items on long loan for use in the classroom.

More to follow.

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