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Councillor fears library faces threat of closure
10:00am Saturday 11th January 2014 in News
LEDBURY could lose its library this year as Herefordshire Council hones the axe for further cuts.
That is the fear of county councillor Liz Harvey, who said she has tried and failed to get assurances from the authority that the library will not close.
A series of meetings this month, beginning on Monday, will look at service cuts, with the library under consideration for closure.
The final decision will not be made until a Herefordshire Council cabinet meeting on Thursday, January 23.
But Coun Harvey said her attempts to get clarification in advance have been met with silence.
The town's library, currently housed in the Elizabeth Barret Browning Institute, was set to move into the restored Master’s House on St Katherine's car park by late summer.
Coun Harvey said: “I have sought assurance from the cabinet members concerned that the option to close Ledbury library will not be taken – given the work done and community backing for the customer services’ and library’s move to the restored Master’s House.
“But I have not yet received a reply.”
In late October, 2013, Herefordshire Council approved a £600,000 budget increase towards the restoration of the Master’s House, bringing the final costs of restoration to more than £4 million.
The council decided stopping the restoration work at such a late stage would cost as much as carrying on because the listed medieval building would still need to be protected from the elements.
“Herefordshire has adopted an innovative policy of colocating libraries with customer service centres for some years,” said Coun Patricia Morgan, council cabinet member for corporate services.
“This has helped with running costs and will stand us in good stead as we further develop this model to cope with ever reducing funds.
“In September, a decision was made to reduce opening hours in our libraries and customer service centres.
“A further report will be considered by cabinet on Thursday, January 23, as part of the budget decisions which will review how libraries and customer service centres can be delivered with further reduced funding from April 2015.
“This will involve more centralised professional support, use of self-service, increased use of the internet, support of volunteers and user groups, opportunities for trading and possibly local financial support.”
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