Council to reveal proposed cuts to Hampshire library service

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New Forest libraries
Libraries like the one in Lyndhurst are among services facing funding cuts

PLANS for the future of Hampshire libraries – which could include proposals for closures and reductions in opening hours – will be revealed this week.

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A 10-week public consultation over a county-wide restructure of the service will be launched at midday on Thursday, writes Maria Zaccaro of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The news comes as Hampshire County Council announced plans to review the way libraries operate as part of a move expected to save the authority £1.75m by 2021.

New Forest libraries are in New Milton, Lymington, Lyndhurst, Milford, Ringwood, Hythe, Blackfield, Totton and Fordingbridge.

As reported in the A&T, documents released last year revealed that 58 jobs in the library sector could be at risk.

Last month HCC dismissed claims that 37 libraries faced closure but it has confirmed that further details and a public consultation will be launched on Thursday.

Residents across the county will be able to collect the consultation form from libraries from midday or complete it online.

Cllr Sean Woodward, executive member for recreation and heritage, said despite the cuts that needed to be made, there would still be a budget of around £10m.

At a full council meeting last year he said there had been a decrease from 7m to 4.5m visitors to libraries over the past few years but an increase in the number of residents using digital library services.

Last month he said the consultation will present options including reductions in opening hours and the possibility a small number of libraries would close or relocate.

But he stressed that the authority is “absolutely committed” to ensuring Hampshire residents can access high-quality library services.

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