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Library staff jobs under threat in council bid to save money

The council is looking to cut 27 jobs from the service, that has libraries in Aldershot, Farnborough, Fleet and Yateley

Hampshire County Council

More than two dozen library workers could lose their jobs as part of Hampshire County Council’s long-term savings plans.

The council is looking to cut 27 full-time equivalent jobs from the service that has libraries in Aldershot, Farnborough, Fleet and Yateley.

The proposals are part of a package of measures , which include reducing the mobile library service in Hart and Rushmoor and ending the family library link service and closing three libraries in other parts of the county.

Overall the measures are aimed at cutting nearly £1 million from the library budget, however, at the beginning of the year library staff were told that the service would only need to cut £300,000.

Public sector trade union Unison describes the cuts as ‘unnecessary’.

Spokesman Steve Squibbs said: “Unison does not accept the case for cuts to public services, particularly in an authority that has reserves that are approaching half a billion pounds.

“But even on their own terms these cuts go way beyond what is necessary. If the cuts go ahead they will result in a service that is unsustainable as staff struggle to maintain a quality service for the public.”

One aspect of the cuts is to disband the library outreach team, which promotes the use of the library service to playgroups, schools and community groups.

Mr Squibbs added: “Libraries are a fantastic asset that help raise aspirations, levels of literacy, improve life chances and are fun community spaces where you can access books and information for free.

“The outreach team has done a great job in recent years to promote this message and help Hampshire libraries buck the national trend of declining book issues – to disband the team now is utter madness.”

Under the proposals local library management teams will be cut by almost 50% but will have additional responsibilities for outreach and stock purchasing.

Unison believes that the net result will be unsustainable and will mean a worse service for the public, delivered by over-stretched staff.

The council will now begin a 30-day consultation with staff and trade unions over the proposals to cut the jobs, but Unison is questioning whether this amounts to genuine consultation.

“The law says that consultation should begin when the proposals are still at a formative stage,” explained Mr Squibbs

“Library management make no secret of the fact that these proposals have been under discussion for up to a year, but we are being given just 30 days to respond.

“The council needs to rethink its approach and engage in meaningful consultation with the trade unions about how the library service and our members’ jobs can be protected.”

The council was unavailable to comment.

 
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