New chapter for libraries in Peterborough

Liam Middleton with Cllr Matthew Lee at Bretton Library. (METP-23-03-11RH151) Picture: Rowland Hobson/Peterborough ET
Liam Middleton with Cllr Matthew Lee at Bretton Library. (METP-23-03-11RH151) Picture: Rowland Hobson/Peterborough ET
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AVID readers who battled to stop their libraries’ opening hours being slashed are celebrating a victory.

Peterborough City Council chiefs had proposed reducing opening hours at Bretton, Werrington and Orton libraries from 44 to 29 hours a week as part of their £223,000 savings from the library services budget.

But after two petitions and pleas by bookworms for the council to buck the national trend, deputy leader councillor Matthew Lee working closely with Vivacity had a re-think to allow all three libraries to stay open for 37 hours a week.

They managed to claw back £52,000 from the overall contract and commissioning budget so that the library services only need to make £171,000 savings instead.

Councillor Lee said: “This is great news for library users in Peterborough and shows again that the council listens to its residents and makes changes where it can.

“We received hardly any feedback about our proposed changes to library opening hours in our original three-month budget consultation, but once we started to talk to library users it soon became clear how strongly they were opposed to the reduction in hours to Bretton, Werrington and Orton libraries.

“And I am delighted that we’ve been able to make a further £52,000 available to enable those three libraries to now stay open for longer and build on the commuunity involvement that is so apparent here.”

Friends of Werrington Library (FOWL) was founded recently to promote and raise funds for the centre in Staniland Way, but at their first meeting group members were devastated to discover opening hours could be slashed.

They immediately began a campaign and group member, Rob Dudley said the news of the compromise was very welcome.

He added: “I won’t call it a victory as we have worked together on this but this is great news for an incredibly important community facility which is more than just a place to get books.

“I think that common sense has prevailed.”

Bretton Library’s users were equally delighted with the news and University College London (UCL) student, Liam Middleton (22), who recently moved home to Peterborough to finish his masters in English Literature, said it was “a very good thing”.

He said: “Having studied in libraries in London we actually have better facilities here in Peterborough and anything that helps more people have access to reading and research can only be great.”

Darren Davies, from Walton, visits the library at least three times a week. He said: “It is really important they keep the libraries open as they are always busy.”

Kevin Tighe, chief executive of Vivacity, added: “We have been working closely with the council to help them meet their budget challenges.

“But we are delighted that by working together with the council we have been able to lessen the impact the budget challenge has had on our libraries.”