Suffolk: All libraries set to stay open

SUFFOLK: No libraries in the county are to close, it will be confirmed later this month.

The county council’s cabinet is set to approve proposals to set up a new structure to run the county’s 44 libraries which could involve job losses and staff transfers.

But none of the libraries will close – and the county hopes most will see opening hours remain the same or even increase.

However the future of the county’s mobile libraries is less clear. The number of visits they make to rural communities could be cut in an attempt to reduce costs.

Cabinet member with responsibility for libraries Judy Terry said the county would be looking at three options to run the library service in future:

- An in-house business unit similar to the Schools Library Service.

- An external, but wholly council-owned, company.

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- An independent company managed by the county through contractual arrangements.

Mrs Terry said the second and third options would allow communities to have a significant say in how their libraries were run.

She said during the consultation earlier this year a number of things had become clear, but one point stood out: “Most important of all was not closing any of Suffolk’s libraries.

“We feel the proposals being put forward strike the right balance between protecting much-loved council services while finding necessary and unavoidable financial savings.”

Suffolk’s cabinet is due to meet on July 19 when the proposals will be debated.

Labour libraries spokeswoman Bryony Rudkin was angry about the worry that communities had faced: “When you look at all the concern and fear that spread through communities, it shows up what was wrong with the New Strategic Direction.

“You have to say, though, that campaigners have fought very well to save their libraries.”

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