West Berkshire library service cuts revealed

Library protest with gravestones
Image caption Campaigners walked from Newbury library to the office of MP Richard Benyon last year to protest at the cuts

One library in West Berkshire is to close and eight others are to have staff cut and be replaced by volunteers due to council cuts.

West Berkshire Council voted on Tuesday to close Wash Common Library in Newbury, saving it £580,000 a year.

At seven other sites the council is to cut the number of full-time librarians by more than 40%. It wants volunteers to help keep services afloat.

The council said it faced "squeezed" budgets.

'Grim reality'

It had planned to close eight out of nine of the borough's libraries, but has decided only Wash Common will be shut.

Newbury Library will retain a full service but staffing levels will in time be reduced though review and restructuring.

Libraries that will cut paid staff and take on volunteers

  • Burghfield Common
  • Hungerford
  • Lambourn
  • Mortimer
  • Pangbourne
  • Thatcham
  • Theale

The council's mobile bus service will also be cut from two vehicles to one.

Councillor Dominic Boeck said: "The grim reality we face in terms of squeezed budgets is that we can no longer afford to run the service as we've done in the past."

But resident Tim Sims said: "Berkshire's a rich county with hundreds of hi-tech businesses... and yet it can't afford to keep up a few libraries which serve young and old alike."

Last year campaigners marched with mock gravestones to Newbury MP Richard Benyon's office to protest against the planned closures.

Image caption Campaigners made mock gravestones to highlight the plight of libraries in West Berkshire

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