Deadline looms for library savings plan

Wednesday 29th June 2016 8:20 am
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Builth Wells Library ()

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THERE are just days left to put forward suggestions on how to maintain the library service in Powys as the council looks to reduce its costs.

The council’s library service must save a quarter of a million pounds by April 2019 towards the authority’s overall £27m savings target with £100,000 having to be found by April 2018.

A consultation on the library service and plans around how it could generate income, work with others and move libraries to other buildings closes on Sunday, July 3.

The council has proposed that the six main libraries - Ystradgynlais, Brecon, Llandrindod, Machynlleth, Newtown and Welshpool – and the two mobile library services for North and South Powys - form the cornerstone of the service.

The council wants to hear from library users, residents, businesses and voluntary groups on how it can save 50% of the local running costs and continue to deliver services in the 11 towns that have branch libraries – Builth Wells, Crickhowell, Hay-on-Wye, Knighton, Llanfair Caereinion, Llanfyllin, Llanidloes, Llanwrtyd Wells, Presteigne, Rhayader and Talgarth.

But it has warned some branch libraries could close if the council is unable to find the required savings.

Paper surveys are available at all libraries and an online survey and drop in sessions have been taking place for residents and interested organisations to chat to the principal librarian.

The unitary authority has also been holding discussions with town councils, schools and other organisations to consider opportunities for sharing costs and sustaining the library service.

Ideas such as setting a friends of the library scheme have also been discussed. A friends of Crickhowell library group was established in May last year to support the library by volunteering, fund-raising and running events.

Cabinet member responsible for libraries, Councillor Graham Brown said: "Powys libraries are highly regarded by residents and what we are trying to do via this exercise is look at all options and invite proposals, views and ideas so we can find new and innovative ways to keep them open wherever possible.

"At this stage I’d like to thank everyone who has submitted a survey, attended a drop in session or given us either an expression of interest around joint working or submitted a business plan.

"We’ve had over 400 surveys returned and some interesting conversations and proposals put forward. After the closing date we’ll be looking at all views and ideas in more detail and hope to take those forward that help us to realise the savings needed."

Groups interested in taking on libraries have been reminded PAVO offer advice and some support to both voluntary organisations and town and community councils in the production of business plans. For details email [email protected]

The consultation closes on Sunday July 3 and a report with the findings will be going to the cabinet in the autumn.The survey can be accessed at http://surveys.powys.gov.uk/index.php?sid=89296&lang=en