THERE are fears a new library survey released by Herefordshire Council is designed to find a way of justifying further cuts.

The council has started a consultation to gauge a range of views from those who use libraries and customer service centres and those who currently do not.

Herefordshire Council said the answers will be used to help make decisions on the best way of using the services in the future and how to prioritise services.

But William McMorran, chair of the Hereford Library User Group (HLUG), said: "HLUG fears that this survey is designed to find a way of justifying further cataclysmic service reductions over the next three years.

"A budget of £2.8m in 2010/11 will be effectively reduced to £1.45m, and probably even less by 2019.

"In order to make clear that these immensely important centres for learning and wellbeing are to be absolutely supported by the council, HLUG encourages everyone to not tick the check boxes but instead make polite comments in the boxes where an opinion is invited."

At a meeting of the HLUG this week the Rankin Centre Project Group (RCPG) was formally constituted to carry forward the new proposal for a multi use centre for learning and wellbeing at the library in Broad Street.

Some grant money for the RCPG is being provided by the council but further funds are needed to cover on-going expenses, provision of a physical base/visibility within the city centre and advice from The Ministry of Imagination, an innovative group of library specialists based in Holland.

Cllr Bramer, cabinet member for contracts and assets, said: "We would encourage as many people as possible to have their say, if they use the service or not. This will help us make key decisions in the autumn."

There are two separate surveys – one for those who already use these services and one for those who haven’t as yet, with a £50 prize draw for completed entries.

Cllr Bramer added: “We have seen libraries change significantly over the last few years offering a range of services catering for different interests and would want to hear the views of residents on how the services could operate in the future knowing there are spending challenges across departments in the council."

The consultation runs until August 5 and is available on-line at or in person at each of the libraries and customer service centres. The information will be published in mid-October.