Letter: Cutbacks to library service will hit the town hard

Bridlington North Library, just one of the libraries in East Yorkshire facing cutbacks.
Bridlington North Library, just one of the libraries in East Yorkshire facing cutbacks.

I have been going to libraries all over the country for the past 50 years. The current government cutbacks in local finance will hit libraries in the East Riding badly.

Money has to be saved by the local council in unprecedented amounts since 2010 when the coalition government came to power and austerity measures were quickly introduced.

However, although the local East Riding Council have tried to please everyone, in the end a compromise may not be in the best interest of the general public in Bridlington Library, King Street.

For example, under the section ‘Hours of the King Street Library’ it is proposed to cut the hours by around 25 per cent.

According to the comments made earlier on in the year 91 per cent of those who replied needed 100 per cent access at all times, so to close the library on a Thursday is a retrograde step.

Firstly, this is like going back in time, when there were half day closures in all villages, towns and cities. However, this is not in line with modern society.

Libraries, like all aspects of life, have to move on in the 21st century, and not go back to the outdated 20th century thinking. Secondly, there any many people, like myself, who use the library on a daily basis, the continuity of knowing that the library is open every day is important.

Once you break that cycle people will tend to not come as regularly as before, and may even drop off from coming at all. Do not forget that the majority of people who use the library on a regular basis will either be the old, the disabled, the retired, the unemployed or children. Thirdly, there are two million visitors to Bridlington a year, according to the official East Riding of Yorkshire statistics, on a bad weather day some of these people, as well as the indigenous population of Bridlington’s 36,000 population will use dry and warm places like this library and swell the number of people who use it.

As well as the proposed closure of the library on Thursdays, the council are proposing to cut the seven hours on a Saturday to five hours. Saturday is the day when most people do their shopping. Also, there is the outdoor market in the square opposite the library, which is on a Saturday. Saturday is also the day when the working people of Bridlington have the only time in the week when they can actually use the libraries facilities. People lead busy lives, cutting down the hours by 2pm on a Saturday is not exactly encouraging working people in the Bridlington area to attend their local library. Your plans are a false economy, and is not conducive to utilising the library to its greatest potential.

You want to cut back the hours of the library on every day, except Wednesdays when you actually want to increase it by two hours. How illogical.

However, this is the first positive step in the whole cutting of the libraries hours.

On a general basis I have some ideas on how the library can actually make money:

1. Advertise and hire the rooms out more. There are many different social groups in the Bridlington area. Advertising can be through a local newspaper, online, or any other;

2. On a trial run charge the computer users who stay on the computer for more than an hour, say 50p, unless they are on benefits, and/or disabled or unemployed;

3. Have a cafe. There is one in the North Bridlington Library. It can be somewhere where people meet their friends, can be cheaper than outside cafes, and would encourage the library users to stay longer, and perhaps use even more of the libraries facilities;

4. Cutback the number of newspapers/magazines per day/week. The East Riding Mail - a Hull daily newspaper - costs 60p a day, although it lists jobs they are not in this area, and is a luxury that cannot be afforded;

5. The Sunday Observer costs £2.90 a week, even I do not read this. As it just regurgitates the Monday to Saturday news;

6. The library closed for a year from 2009 to 2010. At a cost to the council of 1.2 million pounds. It is a waste of taxpayers’ money to cut back some of its services.

7. Perhaps the worst aspect of the cutbacks amongst the whole of the East Riding is the effect on the staff. Especially at North Bridlington Library and King Street Library. Apparently all staff at whatever level are having to re-apply for their jobs. They will not know who will be kept on and who will not, this will only be known to them by next April.

So, for well over a year, staff uncertainty and morale have hit rock bottom. And yet everyone does their job to the best of their ability. As I see, and deal with them on a day to day basis.

This is an appalling way to treat a highly trained and motivated staff at any time, but especially now in the recession and the uncertainty over Britain’s place in the world. Due to us voting to come out of the EU, in fact it is a disgrace, and I would like to know the meaning behind why staff are treated this way.

Unfortunately, I was on holiday the library public meeting was held in June. I do hope there will be another before any decisions are implemented by the council.

Philip James

Kestrel Drive