30% of library staff in South Gloucestershire could be sacked under Tory Councillors’ plans to hit the local service, despite the council’s own consultation showing most public support for stopping library cuts.
With £650k of cuts planned over the next three years, the library service will see its budget (£2.6m) fall by more than one quarter. Options set out in the Council’s report on the future of the library service included, so-called “Open Plus” staff-less libraries , much reduced staffed opening times and at least one volunteer-run library service.
Local trade unionists are adamant the impact of cuts could be lessened if the Conservatives ditched their plan to reduce Green Bin charges by £6 per year. The move, forecast to cost £230k every year, has come under cross-party attack in recent weeks as a waste of the Transition Fund South Glos has received from the Government.
Andrew Went from UNISON South Gloucestershire Branch said:
“Libraries are an essential service to the community and the Council has a legal duty to provide a library service. The Tory Government is pushing council funding to breaking point across the country, but in this case the councillors have made it worse by choosing a meaningless subsidy for green bins over a decent public service for local people.
“Finding funding elsewhere will be a challenge but we’d encourage the Councillors to re-consider. For example, the Community Services Committee is already projecting a £220,000 underspend in the current year and if continued in future years this would meet nearly half the library cuts the Council is planning to make.
“We have considerable concerns about the impact of unstaffed libraries. People will be deprived of the essential support of professional staff, who help with far more than finding a book. Helping with jobseeking, learning and skills, support for families and a helping hand with form filling are all part of a library worker’s daily tasks.”