Council proposals to cut Alderley Edge library opening hours

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Proposals for how Cheshire East's libraries could be run in the future will be discussed next week in order to make £600k in savings over the next two years, which include reducing the opening hours at Alderley Edge.

A report will be presented to Cheshire East Council's environment and communities committee putting forward an updated draft strategy for the borough's libraries which will include a tiering system for how library services will be run.

The council must make savings in library services of more than £600k over the next two years to support the council's medium-term financial strategy (MTFS) 2024-2028. The MTFS needs to achieve budget savings of £100 million to continue offering support to Cheshire East's most vulnerable residents.

The proposed tier system for libraries is:

Tier one – Congleton, Crewe, Macclesfield, Nantwich and Wilmslow.

These sites would become 'library hubs' and continue to provide the core library services along with free support around health, employment, skills, education and personal finance, and host other services, such as banking hubs.

Tier two – Alsager, Holmes Chapel, Knutsford, Middlewich, Poynton and Sandbach.

These sites would continue to offer the core library and customer services, with revised opening hours to focus on when the libraries are busiest.

Tier three – Alderley Edge, Bollington, Disley and Handforth.

These sites would be known as 'community libraries' and act as customer service points and offer a small range of activities. They would be staffed by Cheshire East Council employees for up to 1.5 days during the week.

For Alderley Edge library the proposal is to reduce the opening hours staffed by the Council to 10am to 2pm on Wednesdays and 10am to 5pm on Fridays.

The council is engaging with community organisations and town and parish councils to explore opportunities for them to operate library services in their local areas during the remainder of the week.

Tier four - existing mobile library and the home library service.

These will delivered by volunteers and offered to those residents who are unable to leave their homes.

Councillor Mick Warren, chair of Cheshire East Council's environment and communities committee, said: "The draft libraries strategy has been developed following the library service review held last year.

"Feedback from a public consultation held at the time showed that libraries are very important to our residents.

"However, major financial challenges mean there is far less money available to spend. We must look at a different way of running our libraries so that we can still offer these valued services in the places where demand and need is greatest.

"In doing this, it provides us with opportunities to invest in our core sites, explore how we can use them to generate income, and to use new technologies so library services are more accessible to our residents.

"It also gives us the opportunity to deliver a service that's in partnership with our local communities, and to look at how library and other council services – such as those offering support around health and employment – can be delivered in a more joined up way.

Subject to approval by committee on 18 July, the public consultation on the libraries strategy is expected to launch in August.

After considering the feedback from the consultation, final proposals for libraries will be developed and brought back to committee in autumn.

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Steven Mccrory
Thursday 11th July 2024 at 10:12 am
Again cuts cuts cuts to every single thing but not to the council tax bills... Total utter disgrace and mismanaged as always.
Stephen Maynard
Thursday 11th July 2024 at 7:50 pm
The more we pay the less the services are provided and their salaries and pension contributions continue to go up for the less work they do and reduced services provided - - all overpaid and underworked and clearly mismanaged- total disgrace - clearly they have zero KPI’s
Anne Bale
Thursday 18th July 2024 at 12:00 pm
This proposal is extremely concerning as libraries play a critical role in lessening inequalities, reducing isolation and promoting good mental health amongst many other valuable services. Not all the existing clients will be able to visit the library during the proposed reduced hours and may not be able to travel to Macclesfield or Wilmslow. How many people will not be able to pop into the library when they go shopping or meet friends for a coffee because the opening hours never align with their visit? Our library is a safe and welcoming place for everyone who happens to walk past and is one of the very few places that you can visit for free in Alderley Edge. Is this the first step in closing tier 3 libraries ?

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