Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Library Opening Hours Slashed to Save PS1m

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Library Opening Hours Slashed to Save PS1m

Article excerpt

Byline: Will Metcalfe Local government reporter

NINE libraries across Newcastle are set to have their hours slashed as part of a PS30m cuts programme.

Newcastle City Council has said Gosforth Library, East End Library and Customer Service Centre, Outer West Library and Customer Service Centre, and West End Library and Customer Service Centre will have their hours more than halved to 23 hours a week.

All of the venues are currently open for at least 54 hours a week.

Elsewhere, Fenham Library will have its hours cut to 18.5 hours per week from 41.5 hours; Kenton Library will go from 51.5 hours to 23 hours; Newburn Library from 35.75 hours to 18.5 hours; Walker Library cut from 43 hours to 23 hours; and City Library will see hours cut from 69 hours to 49 hours.

Newcastle Civic Centre's Customer Service Centre will see its opening hours cut from 40 hours to 37.5 hours a week.

The proposals are part of a plan to save PS1m from the cost of running libraries and customer service centres, but the council has said that by cutting opening hours so savagely they have managed to avoid any full closures.

Councillor David Stockdale, cabinet member for communities and facilities, said: "The huge cuts to Newcastle City Council's budget forced on us by Government spending reductions and rising costs means we have to find ways of making savings across our library and customer service network, as we do across the entire council.

"Despite the horrendous budget savings we have to meet, I have been clear that we will not close any of our customer service centres or libraries.

"Reducing opening hours, although disappointing, is the only way we have been able to meet the savings required and save our customer service centres and libraries from closure.

"Our libraries and customer service centres are vital resources and an important statement of what we stand for as a city. …

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