Filton Library facing closure threat as cost cutting begins to bite

Published on: 25 Feb 2016

South Glos Council is to launch a consultation which could lead to the closure or a significant reduction in hours at Filton LIbrary.
The authority is looking to make savings and is considering three options which will be consulted upon.
Part of the study includes identifying 4 main hubs, of which Patchway would be one but not Filton. In addition, consideration is being given to volunteers staffing the library for some of the time. The options are:
1. If opening hours were reduced by 19% (90 hours) in the realm of the target of £500k could be achieved.
2. Satellite libraries (inc Filton) would be staffed and operated by the Council for two days (18 hours) per week. Local groups and volunteers would be given the opportunity to fund additional hours, or to operate elements of the library service. The satellite libraries would remain closed (outside the times funded by the Council) if local groups and volunteers did not come forward to extend opening hours or help support the delivery of services during core hours.
3. Close all libraries except identified main libraries. This option would enable the Council to maintain the current level of provision at 5 main libraries taking into account geographic spread of main population centre libraries and future growth. These are currently proposed as Kingswood, Yate, Patchway, Thornbury and Bradley Stoke. It would deliver savings in the realms of £1m.
A South Glos spekesperson said: “The South Gloucestershire Council Communities Committee has approved plans to consult with the public, community groups and staff about potential changes to library services. The consultation process will begin in February, but no service changes would take effect until October 2017.
“The council’s aim is to work with community-based partners to ensure South Gloucestershire library services are sustainable for the long term, despite reduced funding from government. It is hoped that local groups, individuals and potentially town and parish councils will be able to make a valuable contribution to maintain library opening hours and support existing paid staff.
“The council needs to save £640,000 from the budget for the service and while the proposed new model involves reducing some library opening hours, closing Chipping Sodbury library and ending the Mobile Library service, it is anticipated that through discussions with the community over the next year, many of these reductions could be avoided.”
Chair of the Communities Committee, Councillor Heather Goddard, said: “We appreciate that our libraries are a very valuable resource for many residents and that the services people use, and the support they receive from our dedicated staff, extend far beyond borrowing books.
“In order to preserve our libraries in a sustainable way, we do have to look at changing the way we deliver the service, however, before we make any decisions, we want to hear the views of the community.
“The proposals in the consultation are really a starting point. We fully expect that we will find common cause with residents, community groups and our colleagues in town and parish councils in looking for ways we can continue to deliver library services to people together.”
The committee also discussed plans for ‘Community Hubs’ and adopted a policy to develop a model of co-located services, including libraries, One Stop Shops (OSS) and potentially other public sector organisations in single, easy-to-access facilities, where possible.
Priority areas to look at delivering services in this way will be Kingswood, Patchway and Yate and the Committee also agreed that the council should develop plans to pilot new technological ways of providing access to services in Thornbury.
Cllr Goddard said: “Although there is reduced funding for the council to provide services, we know there is no reduction in demand. We know that residents like the idea of services being available together and so we will pursue the idea of Community Hubs as a way of potentially reducing some overhead costs.”
The Library Service consultation process will begin on February 22 and run for 12 weeks. Details will be published online at www.southglos.gov.uk/consultation.

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