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Fury at Conservative plans to close up to 14 Hampshire Libraries

January 22, 2020 8:46 AM
Originally published by Romsey and Southampton North Liberal Democrats

"It's the beginning of the end for Hampshire's public library service"

Commenting on today's announcement that the Conservative-run Hampshire County Council is planning to close up to 14 of Hampshire's libraries, Liberal Democrat Councillor Alan Dowden said:

"These closure plans mark the beginning of the end for Hampshire's public library service.

"Not only are the Conservative-run Council planning to close 10 of the 48 County-run libraries, they are also cutting all support for the 4 community-run libraries meaning that those libraries are also likely to close. North Baddesley Library being one of those.

"Closing 14 of the 52 public libraries in Hampshire, over a quarter, sounds the death knell for the library service in Hampshire... and the cuts don't stop there.

In order to save £1.76 million from Hampshire's libraries budget, the Conservatives are also planning to cut opening hours at all the remaining libraries by up to 25 per cent, make staff redundant, cut the Book Fund, and reduce by half the number of computer terminals in those libraries that remain.

"This is devastating news for our library service. Although millions of pounds have already been cut from the library service in recent years, never before has Hampshire County Council closed a single library. Now the ruling Conservatives are planning to close well over a quarter of the Council or community-run libraries and there's no guarantee that others will be safe from the axe in years to come.

"Hampshire used to have one of the best library services in the land. The previous Executive Member for Culture & Communities, Councillor Andrew Gibson, pledged that no library would be closed while he remained in post (and he kept his promise) but now he's been replaced by Councillor Sean Woodward it seems no library is safe from closure or cuts to services and opening hours.

"Liberal Democrat councillors are totally opposed to these savage cuts that will decimate a once-proud library service. Liberal Democrats will fight tooth-and-nail to keep all Hampshire's libraries open. We urge the 200,000+ Hampshire residents who use their local libraries on a regular basis to make their views known and fight to keep all of Hampshire's libraries open. "Hampshire's libraries are too good to lose"