March 26 2015

PLANS to close some of Bristol's libraries – including Redland Library – will be put on hold until after April 2016, even if a current consultation on the service's future results in recommendations for closure, the council has announced.

PLANS to close some of Bristol's libraries – including Redland Library – will be put on hold until after April 2016, even if a current consultation on the service's future results in recommendations for closure, the council has announced.

The statement has come following proposals in February that seven libraries could close as part of the council's plans to cut £1m from the budget.

The council has said that “every effort will be made” to find new ways of working with local communities and potential partners to adapt the library service to current needs.

This guarantee was made by the Mayor George Ferguson following consultation with Assistant Mayor for Neighbourhoods and Bishopston councillor Daniella Radice, Deputy Mayor Geoff Gollop and council officers.

A four month consultation on the future of libraries is now underway in the city, looking at the need for a more modern service during a time of government cuts to public budgets.

Libraries have been categorised into two groups, allowing the council to be clear about how they will invest in delivering a new-look service.

The seven libraries, including Clifton, Eastville, Westbury-on-Trym, Sea Mills, Bedminster and Brislington, proposed for closure have been identified as not fitting into these two groups.

The council is now having conversations with the community and other partners to explore viable opportunities for continuing to provide a service in affected areas.

Mayor Ferguson says he will allow extra time to look at the results of the consultation, make firmer plans and bring any creative ideas to fruition.

He has not ruled out making savings elsewhere in the council’s overall budget if the consultation reveals compelling reasons to retain more libraries.

Councillor Radice said: “It’s a huge challenge to deliver the savings required by national austerity measures, and we have a duty to local people to make sure that we go about things in an inclusive way which has every chance of success.

“I’ve pushed for this commitment to avoiding any in-year savings, taking some of the urgency out of the decision making process and helping us make absolutely sure there’s time to see what ideas people come up with and how we as a council can help make them happen.

“The Mayor and his cross party cabinet are united in our desire to see libraries open, modernised and serving their communities in the best possible way. We need more time to give the city the best chance of this happening. I’d urge everyone to take part in our current consultation and give us their ideas – these will be key to ensuring the long-term viability of Bristol libraries.”

Bristol’s Libraries for the Future closes on 30 June 2015. People can take part by visiting www.bristolfuturelibraries.co.uk. The website includes an information booklet, an online survey and full details of face-to-face meetings and drop-in sessions in local libraries.

Paper copies of the information booklet and surveys are available at all libraries.

 Have your say: library drop-in sessions

March 27, 2-4pm at Eastville Library, Muller Road.

April 22, 2-4pm at Cheltenham Road Library, Cheltenham Road.

April 28, 2-4pm, Redland Library, Whiteladies Road.