Luton library closures announced due to £1.5m funding cut

Image caption,
Sundon Park library will close by spring 2014, Luton Culture says

Two libraries in Luton are to close after the charity which runs them lost more than £1.5m in council funding.

Luton Culture said the decision to shut Wigmore and Sundon Park libraries and also stop the mobile library service would save £330,000.

The six other libraries in the town, including the Central Library, plus the Home Library Service will remain.

A spokeswoman said it "regretted" the reduction. Library campaigners have called the decision a "disgrace".

Luton Culture, which carries out work on behalf of the council, said the decision came after a three month consultation.

Chief executive Maggie Appleton said: "Sadly, the £1.58m cut our charity is facing has forced us to make changes to the library service."

She added the Luton Borough Council consultation had "carefully analysed" all the options for savings across the library network and about 4,000 people had completed a user survey.

Ms Appleton said the exercise showed 86.6% of Luton people will still live within a mile of a library - compared to 88% at the moment - and more than 41% of users at the affected libraries already use other libraries.

"The Home Library Service will continue to supply books, audio books, music and DVDs to the elderly and those with disability/mobility problems, direct to their doors," she said.

'Not listening'

Library campaigner Doreen Steinberg, who collected a 10,000-signature petition to keep Wigmore Library open, confirmed she had sent the council a formal complaint saying the consultation was "flawed".

"It's a disgrace, they are forging ahead and not listening," she said.

"It was not a proper consultation, I have spoken to thousands of people and they had never heard of it, it was not "transparent, comprehensive and inclusive".

"Libraries are not just about books, they help people in all sorts of ways."

Library services will continue at Stopsley Library, Marsh Farm Library, Leagrave Library, Luton Central Library, Bury Park Library and Lewsey Library.

The closures will take place by spring 2014.

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