Suffolk's 44 libraries to remain open under new plan

Campaigners' banner at Suffolk County Council
Image caption The original proposal for the county to get rid of 29 libraries sparked public campaigns

All of Suffolk's 44 public libraries will remain open under plans to create a new organisation to run them.

Suffolk County Council has proposed setting up a charitable trust - an Industrial and Provident Society (IPS) - which would get 95% of its funding from the council.

The council said the libraries would cost £6.487m a year, compared to the £8.961m budget for 2010-11.

The county said most staff would be transferred to the new IPS.

The Conservative-run county council said it needed to make cuts of £110-125m over four years, following a reduction in its grant from central government.

Earlier this year, the council proposed that 29 of its smaller libraries should be run by community groups, but the new proposal replaces that.

'Unnecessary bureaucracy'

Judy Terry, councillor with responsibility for libraries, said it would put the service on "a strong and sustainable footing".

"We want to free the library service from unnecessary council bureaucracy so that it can thrive and it's fully costed on the basis of keeping the full network open," she said.

"We are not abandoning the idea of community groups becoming involved in the running of their libraries.

"Community groups will be able to opt for a level of responsibility they feel able to take on."

The council said the new IPS would get an 80% reduction in property rates and be able to apply for external funding.

It would work with the council but be independent.

Ms Terry said about 20 posts would go in a service which currently has the equivalent of 160 full-time posts.

She said the job losses would be in the management tiers and would not affect what she called "front-line" staff.

Local libraries would be expected to come up with the other 5% of their funding through efficiency savings or through generating income via things like book clubs, coffee mornings or school holiday events.

It is also proposed that the mobile library service runs monthly visits rather than fortnightly ones.

The proposals go before the county council's cabinet on 8 November.

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