Devon libraries face opening hours cuts

Kingskerswell library
Image caption Kingskerswell library could open for 15 hours a week instead of 22

Opening hours at most of Devon's libraries could be cut to save money.

The move could also mean some librarians losing their jobs as the Conservative-controlled county council tries to save £850,000.

Combe Martin, Moretonhampstead, Chulmleigh, Lynton and Salcombe will see their hours cut heavily, but some such as Cullompton will open longer.

The county council said it hoped that all jobs lost would go through voluntary redundancy.

County councillors are due to debate the proposed changes when they meet next week.

'Difficult decisions'

Councillor Roger Croad, cabinet member for communities, said: "We are reducing hours where we have to.

"Difficult economic times mean difficult decisions."

The council is also spending £10m to improve libraries, including spending £3.5m on refurbishing Exeter Central Library.

Mr Croad said the investment money for Exeter was coming from the sale of Exeter Airport.

"The £3.5m is capital money, the £850,000 is revenue money," he said.

He said the council hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies.

"We need to make some staff savings in certain areas.

"Consultation is starting with staff on the new hours.

"I would hope that all staff will be kept on and redeployed where possible."

Libraries at Dartmouth, Crediton, Kingsbridge, Seaton, Dawlish and Ilfracombe have been refurbished and work is under way at Barnstaple and Newton Abbot.

Libraries in Teignmouth, Honiton, Sidmouth, Exmouth, Bideford and Okehampton were also to be refurbished.

"We are committed to keeping our libraries open," said Mr Croad.

The council received 8,000 responses to consultation asking people when they used their libraries.

Mr Croad said: "Savings do have to be made, which is why we already taking necessary steps to minimise costs where we can, including a review of our current opening hours.

"We know when people most prefer to use their libraries and are proposing new opening hours to accommodate this."

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