Lancashire's libraries will be 'open for more hours'

County council leader Coun Geoff Driver at the reopening of Fulwood library
County council leader Coun Geoff Driver at the reopening of Fulwood library

A shake-up of library working hours across Lancashire will see the facilities open for longer in total, council bosses have said

The new system - that could include job cutbacks - will be discussed by Lancashire County Council’s cabinet on Thursday, March 8.

If adopted, it would cap a reprieve for several of the county’s libraries that were under threat of closure.

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A consultation late last year asked users for feedback on proposals to match opening hours to local need.

County Coun Peter Buckley, cabinet member for community and cultural services, said: “ We are very aware that people in local areas have detailed knowledge about what would work best for them, and we’ve responded to this as much as we possibly can.”

A cabinet report states a rollout of more “consistent working hours” across the county will lead to a“small reduction in full time equivalent officers and assistants” resulting in a saving of £44k.

Each of the 47 libraries will be allocated into four bandings ranging from 18 hours per week up to 50 hours per week, “proportionate to the population that each library is serving.”

County Coun Buckley added: “The overall proposal means that libraries will be open for more hours in total across the county at a reduced overall cost.

“We designed the model according to when we know they’re most used, in order to better meet the demand with the resources we have.”

The new system could come into play from July.

County Hall’s elected members recently voted for a budget package that included £11m worth of cuts for 2018/19 but £5m has been allocated to keep libraries open.

A total of 26 libraries were closed in 2016 as part of cost-cutting measures, some of which, including Fulwood, were reopened last year by county hall’s Conservative administration.