Council to join Bridlington libraries

Bridlington is to be left with just one library if a range of cost-cutting measures across the East Riding of Yorkshire are approved.

Monday, 9th May 2016, 5:46 pm
Updated Monday, 9th May 2016, 6:55 pm
The council will still retain the North Library building for use as an adult learning and bookable events venue

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council is proposing to join together Bridlington's North and Central Libraries into one site at King Street, so it can meet financial demands brought by the need to save £60 million over the next four years.

The council will however retain the Martongate building, and plan to use it as a venue for adult education and training, as well as a bookable community space.

The move is expected to save around £1.2m per year, and will come amid further investment of £7.4m in six more multi-service centres, to be located at Beverley, Cottingham, Goole. Hedon Hornsea and Howden.

Darren Stevens, head of culture and information, said: "Our aim is to deliver high quality, modern library and customer services to meet the challenge of serving a mainly rural area at a lower cost, whilst still meeting the needs of current and future customers.

"These are challenging times financially, and so savings do have to be made. However, I am confident that these proposals will make our library and customer services more sustainable, whilst continuing to deliver a service not only to our main centres of population but also to our more isolated and vulnerable residents."

While the authority has ruled out the possibility of wholly volunteer-run libraries across the East Riding, it could not guarantee that all jobs will be protected at Bridlington's North Library.

Mr Stevens continued: "It is very pleasing that our proposals do not involve significant closures or withdrawals of services, and neither do they involve substituting volunteers for paid library staff or outsourcing the service, unlike many councils across the country."

The council currently runs 16 branch libraries, seven multi service centres, a mobile library service and an 'at home' service for people whose mobility is restricted.

The current library service budget is £3.578 million, and the budget for multi service centres is £1.69m. Bridlington's North Library costs more than £100,000 per year to run.

In addition to amalgamating Bridlington's two libraries, the council also proposes:

• Investing a further £7.4 million in six more multi-service centres in the next three years, to be located at Beverley, Cottingham, Goole, Hedon, Hornsea and Howden

• Not using volunteers to run library branches, and only using volunteers on specific initiatives like the Summer Reading Challenge (as now)

• Installing free wifi in all library branches, upgrading the People’s Network of free -to - use computer terminals, introducing EBooks, and developing health and wellbeing opportunities

• Retaining a library or multi-service centre in each major town or larger village, but with reduced opening hours

• Offering an improved online library catalogue, and more self service and mobile technology, allowing access to library services outside normal opening hours

• Retaining a mobile library service across the East Riding, but with a reduction in that service

It follows a public consultation in which 98 per cent of respondents said they valued the range of books and other materials; 95 per cent selected trained library staff; 93 per cent said the ease of getting there; and 91 per cent said ‘Open when I need to use it’.

Subject to approval by the council’s Cabinet on Tuesday May 17, the proposal unveiled today (Monday 9 May 2016) will be the subject of a further public consultation, which will run from 25 May until 3 August, 2016.