Sunday, 23 September 2012

Council to close five libraries - Opening hours to be cut!

DESPITE the efforts of campaign groups to save libraries threatened with closure in Tameside, in Greater Manchester, it seems likely that the council will give the go-ahead to close five libraries when council bosses meet next Monday.

According to reports in one local newspaper, Haughton Green library, Denton West End, Newton in Hyde, Hurst in Ashton and Mottram libraries, will all close their doors to library users on October 12.

Last year the council began consulting library users about the future of Tameside libraries and set out three options as part of a cost cutting review. One option involved closing eleven libraries and retaining Ashton and Hyde libraries as 'centres of excellence'. A second option involved closing six libraries, and the council's preferred option, involved keeping open the main branches in Ashton, Denton, Droylsden, Dukinfield, Hattersley, Hyde, Mossley and Stalybridge, with reduced opening hours. All three options involved closing the five smaller neighbourhood libraries.

Around 2,000 people took part in the consultation process with 63% voting in favour of the council's preferred option.

Although council chiefs have yet to meet to make the final decision, library staff have already been issued with details of the new library opening hours for Tameside libraries:

Ashton library is now to close every Monday and will open between 10-3 on Saturday's, instead of of 9-4.

The Local Studies and Archive Centre based at Ashton library, will now close every Monday and Friday and will now be open between 9-5 on Thursday instead of 9-8 and will be open between 10-3 on Saturday instead of 9-4

Denton libary will now close every Tuesday and Wednesday and will open between 10-3 on Saturday's instead of 9-4.

Droylsden library is to close every Tuesday and Wednesday and will open between 10-3 on Saturday's instead of 9-4.

Dukinfield library will now close on Wednesday's and Friday's and will open between 9-8 on Monday's and between 9-5 on Thursday's instead of 9-7.30.

Hyde library will now close on Thursday's and will open between 9-5 on Wednesday's instead of 9-8 and on Saturday's between 10-3 instead of 9-4.

Mossley library which is to be moved to the George Lawton Hall, will be closed on Tuesday's and Wednesday's and will be open between 9-5 on Monday's instead of 9-8, and on Wednesday's between 9-8 instead of 9-7.30

Stalybridge library will now be closed on Thursday's and Friday's and on Tuesday's will now be open between 9-5 instead of 9-8 and between the hours of 10-3 on Saturday's, instead of 9-4.

The hours at Hattersley library remain unchanged.

While the council's consultation exercise on the future of council sevices has been dubbed by them the 'Big Conversation', it is very much a one sided conversation with the council setting the agenda and deciding where the axe will fall on jobs and services. Although they say that voters should blame the Tories for the cuts, they frequently turn a deaf ear to residents suggestions about how the council might make saving without the need for closing such things as libraries.

In letters to the local newspapers, which the council invariably ignores, local residents frequently complain about why they should be paying over £1.25m each year to support 57 councillors who do less work nowadays, since this Labour controlled council for over 20 years, has been devolving itself of responsibility by privatising and outsourcing jobs and services to trusts and private and arms-length companies. Others have also questioned why the council is closing libaries when it as 'usable reserves' (rainy day money) of £1.38m which can be used to fund services. Members of the public have also questioned why the council who are aiming to save £900,000 by closing five libraries, has spent £4m on a little brown bin for Tameside residents to dispose of household waste, when they already have a bin for this purpose. Other critics complain about the £176,000 a year that is spent on the council's propaganda sheet the Tameside Citizen and the annual salary of Stephen Pleasant, the Chief Executive of the council, who receives £192,469 compared with the Prime Ministers salary of £142,500 per annum.

Although the council argue that there isn't the money available for libraries, they can certainly find the money to pay themselves and the money to fund their pet political projects.

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