A libraries review report which is to be submitted to the next Executive Cabinet meeting of Tameside Council in Greater Manchester, on Wednesday 4th July, outlines proposals for the closure of five of the borough's thirteeen libraries and the possible closure, of another library in Dukinfield.
The report sets out three options aimed at saving the council money, which all involve the closure of libraries in Haughton Green, Newton, Hurst, Mottram, and West End, in Denton. Option 1, which the report says would reduce the current libraries budget of £3.14m by £1.35m, would close eleven of the borough's libraries and replace them with "two centres of excellence" - Ashton central library and Hyde library. With extended opening hours, the reports says that there would be an extensive range of books and materials as well as further investment of £250,000, in new technologies. In addition, there would be an extended home library service for the less mobile and a book drop off system for those residents who require it.
Option 2, which would reduce the libraries budget by £900,000, would involve the development of five larger libraries in Ashton, Hyde, Denton, Droylsden, and Stalybridge. This option includes a reduction in opening hours of five hours per week, in each of the libraries during the evenings and at weekends. Mottram and Hattersley library, would be moved to the new Hattersley community facility and Mossley library, would be moved to the George Lawton Hall. A home library service would also be provided.
Option 3, is the same as option 2, but would leave a library building open in Dukinfield. This option would also reduce the libraries budget by £900,000. The report says that in order to keep this library open - which stocks large print books for people with visual impairment - and achieve the same cost reductions, it would be necessary to reduce library opening hours at all town libraries by an additional one day a week, with all libraries only opening four days a week. The report says that this is the council's preferred option.
The report also says that the Local Studies and Archive centre based at Ashton library which currently opens for six days a week, will "continue to provide the full range of services on four days per week and this would save an addditional £39,000."
After the Executive Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, it is proposed to hold a further period of consultation for 6 weeks before the matter goes before an Executive Cabinet meeting in September. If the council's proposals are adopted, it could see fewer libraries remaining open in Tameside and those that do remain open, will see their opening hours reduced drastically. However, as the report points out,there could be legal challenges to these proposals and already library users, such as those in Haughton Green, have signed petitions calling for the council to keep their library open. Other action by users groups, might also be taken to fight the closures, as it becomes clear that local libraries are earmarked for closure.