The Labour-controlled Vale of Glamorgan Council is to consider a report next week which calls for a reduction in library opening hours, buying fewer new books, and the postponement of badly-needed repairs to Penarth Public Library.
The Council claims it needs to cut its expenditure by £20,609,000 over the next three years – and wants £500,000 to come out of its library services – including Penarth’s.
As previously reported by PDN, this involves slashing library opening hours and getting unpaid volunteers to run the libraries in St Athan, Dinas Powys, Sully and Wenvoe (but not Penarth) under what the council calls “the development of community supported/managed libraries”.
Penarth would continue to be run by full-time staff but with reduced opening times. However all Vale libraries are to have what are called a “Friends Group” established to “increase opportunities for the library service to be further embraced by the community” - which, some say, is a backdoor-way of bringing in unpaid help.
On opening hours, the Vale Council says Penarth Library is currently open for 60 hours a week but in all its libraries it claims “the start and the end of the day are the least busy times” and that “comparatively few” people now make use of evening opening ( Thursdays in Penarth). The council wants library opening hours to be adjusted to “more closely track library footfall”.
Across the Vale the “book fund” which funds the acquisition of new books is to be cut from £220,000 to £195,000 a year.
Meanwhile cleaning costs are to be reduced by 20% and charges for the use of some library services are to be increased with immediate effect.
The condition survey report suggests that Penarth Library has the “greatest need for investment“. Damp in Penarth Library is to be tackled at a cost of £88,000 – but not until the year 2015/16.
It’s clear from the report that the public petition in Penarth and the response of Penarth Library customers to the Vale’s public consultation – or “survey” as the council calls it- has been effective in staving-off even more draconian cuts.
The council admits customers of Penarth Library provided 40% of all responses it received across the entire Vale (1002 responses came from Penarth ) . In addition it acknowledges the public petition demanding that Penarth Library remain open and “in its current location”
FIGURES IN THE REPORT INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING : The total annual budget for Penarth Library is £314,244 a year. Staffing of Penarth Library costs £229,557 a year. The premises cost £45,190 a year. “Supplies and Services” to Penarth Library cost £56,132 a year.
Further information is expected on the report in the next few days. The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s ruling “cabinet” is due to discuss the report on Monday next week.