Sutton Council is reminding residents they can still take part in the public consultation on the future of the borough’s library service.
Around 2,200 people already have voiced their opinions in the 12-week consultation, which runs until Wednesday 16 December 2015. A public meeting at Sutton Central Library on Saturday 14 November saw residents discuss issues with councillors and find out more about the proposals.
Sutton Council is being forced to look at changes to the library service due to unprecedented government cuts to its annual budget. As a result, it has to save £74m from its annual budget between 2011 and 2019. The council’s annual revenue budget is currently £148.4m (2015/16).
So far the council has saved £43m from its annual budget, with a further £31m to go.
As part of the cost-cutting measures, the council has identified £1m of savings from the annual libraries, heritage and art budget, which currently stands at £4.4m. It launched the campaign through its Sutton’s Future campaign to ensure that residents can have their say in the future of the service.
Options for consultation include the closure of Beddington Library and the discontinuation of the Mobile Library service, considering a community library model that increases the number of volunteers and volunteer roles, and sharing services with a neighbouring borough.
An enhanced housebound library service to cater for vulnerable residents is already being provided in partnership with Sutton’s Old People’s Welfare Committee, who provide Meals on Wheels services for the council.
Carshalton Central Cllr Jill Whitehead, Chair of the Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee at Sutton Council, said:
“We have had a tremendous response to our consultation so far and there is still time to have your say. While we have to reshape our library service because of Government cuts to our budget, we want to maintain the quality and customer standards that people expect.”
The library consultation is through the council’s Sutton’s Future campaign, which was launched last year to involve residents in helping to make savings due to unprecedented government cuts. It includes an online survey, available here, and an independent telephone survey of 1,000 residents.
In January 2015 Sutton Council adopted a Library Strategy for the borough’s library service, setting out the strategic and operational direction for the service to 2019. It has four key aims:
- Literacy: growing the readers of the future.
- Meeting the needs of an aging population.
- Narrowing the digital divide.
- Creating a viable, sustainable and quality service within available budgets.
Sutton Central Library now offers visitors the chance to get refreshed as they read at a new café in the centre. Gosto Fino’s is a small café run by Joao and his team offering a range of beverages, sandwiches, and tasty snacks for readers to enjoy as they use library services.
The café caters for all tastes with a wide selection of fresh ingredients, including a variety of vegetarian options. Seating is available for readers to take the weight off their feet and relax with their drinks and snacks.
The shop is open from 9.30am – 5.00pm Monday, 9.30am – 7.00 pm Tuesday to Saturday, and between 1.30pm and 4pm on Sundays.
Cllr Jill Whitehead, Chair of Sutton Council’s Environment & Neighbourhood Committee, said:
“Libraries are important hubs for communities – the addition of Gosto Fino’s means there are now even more reasons to visit Sutton Central Library. What better way to while away an afternoon than by picking up a great book and settling down with a hot drink at your local library.”
You can have your say on the future of Sutton’s library services by taking part in the Sutton’s Future debate by clicking here.