December 05 2016

LIBRARY users still have time – just - to put forward their views about the proposed changes to the service from next year.

LIBRARY users still have time – just - to put forward their views about the proposed changes to the service from next year.

A consultation over South Gloucestershire Council's plans to reduce staffed opening hours at 12 libraries, including Hanham, Cadbury Heath and Kingswood, remains open until January 2.

A final decision will be made early in 2017 and implemented no sooner than October.

Under the proposals, Hanham would be staffed for 26 hours a week rather than 41.5. Kingswood would also be 26 hours and Cadbury Heath 24. Users are being asked to give their views on which days they would like librarians present.

It's part of a council scheme in which all the district's libraries would be accessible for 11 hours a day, seven days a week using a swipe card system known as Open Plus. This would cost £400,000 to introduce but would save an estimated £500,000 a year in running costs.

The council is open to ideas for how to fund additional staffed hours. Save Hanham Library campaigners have approached Hanham and Hanham Abbots parish councils to ask them to consider supporting the library, which they see as a vital community resource, but their pleas have fallen on deaf ears.

Martin Burton, the council's cultural services manager, explained the proposed changes, which are set to be piloted at Bradley Stoke before being rolled out across the area, at a meeting of the Community Engagement Forum in Hanham last month.

He stressed that no decision had yet been made. Authorities including Gloucestershire and Wiltshire were using open access systems and South Gloucestershire could learn from them, he said.

Mr Burton addressed safety fears, saying that security guards would visit and a system would alert them to anyone who did not leave the building before closing time. But he said he thought it unlikely that the library windows could be open during unstaffed opening.

He said: “Unlike other authorities, we are not closing libraries so in future we could look at different opening hours which are staffed.”

Consultation forms are available at all South Gloucestershire's libraries and can be found online on the council's website.