Tuesday, 2.30pm: Campaigners have voiced their disappointment after a swathe of cuts to library opening hours in Peterborough were given the green light on Monday (25 March).
The cuts, which are designed to help save £200,000 from the council’s budget, will see Werrington, Orton and Bretton Library close for one day a week, and will mean shorter opening hours at Central Library.
The measures were agreed by members of Peterborough City Council’s ruling cabinet.
It means Bretton and Werrington libraries’ opening hours will be reduced by eight hours, Orton by 13 hours and Central Library by 12.5 hours.
There will also be £50,000 cut from the book budget of £238,000 per year and £18,000 cut from the management team.
Speaking after the meeting, Rob Dudley, from the Friends of Werrington Library (FOWL) said: “Whilst the decision to reduce the opening hours of the Werrington Library is not a surprise, it does come as a disappointment.
“FOWL, with the support of the local Werrington Councillors and the community, have tried to demonstrate to the council the importance of the library in these very testing times.
“Not only does it provide the means for people to gain knowledge and pleasure from the written word but also enables access to computers, papers, magazines and other facilities for those unable to provide their own.
“We fear that such a significant reduction in opening hours will have a major impact on the service provided by the library to the community of all ages in Werrington.”
Councillor Matthew Lee, the council’s cabinet member for culture, recreation and strategic commissioning, said: “We have consulted on the proposals, and we wanted to continue to provide libraries while making £200,000 savings.
“We will be keeping all 10 city libraries open, while other authorities are closing their libraries.
“We listened to the consultation, who asked for longer afternoon sessions to keep libraries open after school.”
Cllr Irene Walsh said she was concerned about the how the changes would affect community groups in the city.
Cllr Lee replied: “There will be an impact on associations, but we want to get more groups into libraries.
“The new hours mean a library will be open all day in the city, except on Sundays.”
Mobile library unaffected
Although the four biggest libraries in the city will see hours reduced, six smaller libraries in Hampton, Dogsthorpe, Eye, Thorney, Woodston and Stanground will not be affected.
The city’s Mobile Library will also be unaffected by the changes.
Cllr Peter Hiller said: “The mobile service is of great value to residents. I am pleased this will be unaffected.”
Cllr John Holdich said: “This is a common sense solution for rural areas. When rural libraries were closed, book lending went up as a result of the mobile library.”