Battle continues over library hours

April 04 2017

CAMPAIGNERS will continue to press for additional staffed opening hours at the popular Hanham Library following council cuts.

CAMPAIGNERS will continue to press for additional staffed opening hours at the popular Hanham Library following council cuts.

They plan to attend two parish council meetings in early April to ask members to think again about funding more hours.

Hanham Parish Council and Hanham Abbots Parish Council both decided against committing any money after being told that an “open access”  swipe card system would mean that people could have access to South Gloucestershire libraries seven days a week, even when they were unstaffed.

But now it has emerged that the swipe card system - which many users have reservations about - cannot be used in Hanham Library because of safety concerns.

Steep steps at the back of the building are the only secondary exit, making the building unsafe for disabled users in the event of a fire.

Therefore, when South Gloucestershire Council’s Environment and Community Services Committee decided last week to go ahead with chopping staffed hours and introducing swipe cards from September across all libraries in the district, members agreed not to bring in “open access” in Hanham, where staffed hours are due to be cut from 42 to 26.

Kingswood Library will not get swipe cards either, until it moves into a new base at the Civic Centre, but they will come in at Cadbury Heath Library.

Labour councillors tried to argue that thousands of pounds of contributions from developers at Hanham Hall and allocated to Hanham Library should be used to create a safe fire exit. The party’s lead on the committee, Councillor Ian Boulton, said he was dismayed that the ruling Conservatives had voted down his suggestion.

The committee’s chairwoman, Tory Councillor Heather Goddard, said she could not agree to “blindly spend” taxpayers’ money.

“I want to see open access technology in Hanham Library and have committed, along with officers, to investigating whether there is a sensible solution that will allow Hanham to benefit,” she said.

Save Hanham Library campaigner Abi Unwin said after the meeting that campaigners were disappointed that Hanham was still scheduled to have its opening hours cut by a third but were hopeful of gaining support from the parish councils.

“When the parish councils decided against funding extra hours, it was because they thought Hanham was getting open access. Now that it isn’t, we are asking them to reconsider,” she said.

“Hanham is such a well used library and all the groups the staff run are very well attended. Hanham Abbots Parish Council meets at 7.30pm on Tuesday April 4 at Hanham Hall, Whittucks Road. 

Hanham Parish Council meets at 7.30pm on Wednesday April 5 at Hanham Community Centre. 

This meeting is preceded  by the annual parish assembly meeting, which starts at 7.05pm  in the same venue.